TERRE HAUTE, Indiana — The Southern Illinois men’s basketball rebounded from a 15-point deficit in the first half to defeat Indiana State 69-61 Wednesday night at the Hulman Center. The Saluki defense held Indiana State to just 25 points in the second half while posting a season-low in total points for the Sycamores.
The win puts Southern up 13-5 in the season and 5-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference, while the loss was the first in the Valley game for Indiana State as the Sycamores fell to 13-5 and 6-1 in league play.
The Salukis were able to establish themselves on the defensive and limit the Sycamores to just four points over a 10-minute period in the second half.
“We had to make them a little more uncomfortable, increase our ball pressure, increase our physicality and pay attention to the ball in the second half,” said the head coach Bryan Mullins said after the game. “Our toughness guarding the paint and the post has really increased and we haven’t allowed them to get a lot of easy cuts and easy post ups. We knew if we could get stops, we’d be able to push the ball and get some momentum offensively.”
Southern would capitalize on a 19-4 run in the second half to take his first lead since the opening minute JD Muila was able to get a five-footer to walk and give SIU a 46-45 advantage. Xavier Johnsons Several areas affected the game, but most notable was his ability to reach the charity streak, where he converted 11 of his 12 tries, with 12 of his 13 points coming in the second half.
After scoring one of the game’s biggest 3-pointers a season ago at Terre Haute, Troy D’Amico felt at home again as the Salukis were plus-20 while the striker was on the pitch on Wednesday night. D’Amico had six points and four rebounds in the game, but what mattered most was his defensive play. The Chicago native posted a career-high with two blocks in the game while the Salukis finished the game with four — a season-high.
The Salukis scored the first basket of the game, but Indiana State scored 11 straight points for an early advantage. Senior JD Muila would break the nearly four-minute scoring drought for SIU on his first touch off the bench.
Indiana State would go up 27-12 with just under eight minutes left at halftime, but then the Salukis started their comeback. Lance Jones — who led SIU by 18 points — lost eight points in the last eight minutes of the first half as Southern surpassed SIU 14-9 to end the half and go into the dressing room just 10 points behind.
Along with his stellar second-half defense, Southern was able to gain control of the ball with just five turnovers in the last 20 minutes. In the second half, too, the Salukis were able to win the fight on the boards with 21:12 after the ISU brought a 16:15 lead into the dressing room at the break.
The Salukis return home for two games starting with Illinois State on Saturday. Tickets to Saturday’s game with the Redbirds start at just $7 at Section 113. Use promo code SEVEN to purchase tickets HERE.
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