The SIU men’s basketball team picked up a much-needed victory on Tuesday night at home. In front of a full house for “Go Pink” — SIU’s annual contest where the team wears special pink jerseys in an effort to raise money and awareness for breast cancer treatment — the Salukis buried the Bradley Braves by the score of 75-64.
The victory increases Southern’s home winning streak to a season-high four games. SIU has been one of the hottest teams in the Missouri Valley Conference in the month of February as it has tabbed a record of 4-2 (3-0 at home) thus far. The two losses came at the hands of the top two teams in the conference — Indiana State and undefeated Wichita State — in consecutive games on the road.
Southern’s recent improved play isn’t because of a returning injured player or a hot-handed senior. Coach Barry Hinson and his assistant coach, Anthony Beane, Sr., have done an incredible job in nurturing one player in particular.
Beane’s son Anthony Beane, Jr. has been the hottest player in the MVC for the last month. The sophomore guard has scored 20 or more points in six of the last seven games. Last season, Beane was named to the conference’s All-Freshman team and averaged nine points per game. Despite a slow start this season, he now averages 14 points for the Salukis.
Beane’s jolt in production is vital to SIU’s success because he gives senior Desmar Jackson a lightened scoring load. Most games, Jackson has to score upwards of 24 points for his team to have any chance of victory. Beane’s torrid play at home allows his fellow backcourt mate to not have to press as much because the home fans are expecting Jackson to do something amazing at all times. It also forces defenses to account for another source of scoring acumen.
As far as the MVC goes, Wichita State is by far the creme of the crop. However, the rest of the conference is up for grabs and SIU already has a 19-point victory over second-place Indiana State. Three teams are tied for fourth-place in the Valley and only two games separate the sixth team from the third-place team. Look for Beane and the Salukis to be somewhere among that mix.