TERRE HAUTE —
On 10 occasions, Indiana State’s men’s basketball team has scored more points in the second half of its games than it has the first.
That’s not altogether remarkable given that the Sycamores have been winning and that second-half totals for winning teams are sometimes inflated by late free throw opportunities and other factors.
But ISU has more statistical evidence that its been able to sustain success over 40 minutes more so than just its point totals.
ISU has also shot the ball better in the second halves of games 10 times as well, including all but one of its Missouri Valley Conference contests. ISU’s opponents have shot worse and taken fewer shots overall in the second half of eight of ISU’s games.
The Sycamores’ ability to finish games — or at least, its ability to prevent teams from runs on them — has played a role in ISU’s 10-5 record and its 3-1 start to the MVC campaign. The Sycamores will be hoping for more of the same as it travels to Southern Illinois for an 8 p.m. game tonight.
“You always want to start good, but its better to finish well. We’ve won close games, so we’ve had to make good plays down the stretch,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.
Off-season conditioning and ISU’s depth — ISU point guard Jake Odum is the only Sycamore who is playing more than 30 minutes per game — have helped. Odum credited the coaching staff with improving on the fly.
“A lot of it is adjustments at halftime. They pay attention and they let us know things they see as far as getting better shots and different spots on the floor where we can get better shots,” said Odum, who leads the MVC in conference-only 3-point shooting at 83.3 percent.
SIU (7-8, 0-4) has lost five in a row, but the Salukis have been knocking at the door. SIU led No. 23 Wichita State by nine at halftime of its game at Koch Arena on Wednesday and battled the talented Shockers to the bitter end in an 82-76 defeat.
“They probably feel like they should have won at Wichita. I watched the game and I feel like they should have won it too. Coming home on a weekend, they’re going to feel like they’re ready to get that first one,” ISU swingman Khristian Smith said.
The Salukis have been playing with an eight-man rotation as injuries and defections have hit SIU hard in Barry Hinson’s first season in charge.
Hinson, however, dominated the Sycamores when he coached at Missouri State from 1999-2008. ISU is 3-15 all-time against Hinson-coached teams. ISU last beat a Hinson-coached team in 2005.
ISU is preparing for both man-to-man and zone defenses. Hinson, normally a man-to-man adherent, has had some success with zone defense this season.
“We’ve worked [against a zone] more this year than we ever have because we’ve also worked on our zone. The teams that have gone to 2-3’s against us, we’ve been able to get them out of it pretty quick with our ball movement and getting easy baskets. If they play man or zone, we’ll be ready,” Lansing said.
Hinson said Friday that injured forward Dantiel Daniels (10.8 points per game) could return to action. Daniels suffered a high-ankle sprain against Missouri State on Dec. 30, 2012. Even with Daniels, SIU has just one player available taller than 6-foot-5.
ISU’s continued success continued to garner national attention. CBS analyst Jerry Palm had the Sycamores in his projected NCAA Tournament field as an at-large team on Friday. ISU was ranked 25th in the RPI as of Friday.
ISU at Southern Illinois
Tipoff — 8 p.m. today at SIU Arena, Carbondale, Ill.
Broadcasts — TV: WTWO-TV 2. Radio: WIBQ-FM 98.5. Twitter: @TribStarTodd.
Last time out — ISU defeated Bradley 68-53 and SIU lost at Wichita State 82-76 on Wednesday.
Series — SIU leads 77-43. ISU was 2-1 against the Salukis in 2012. ISU has won five of the last six in series.
Indiana State Sycamores (10-5, 3-1) — G Jake Odum (6-4, Jr, 14.4, 4.7 rpg, 4.2 apg), G Dawon Cummings (6-4, Jr., 4.8), G-F Manny Arop (6-6, Jr., 12.8, 5.5 rpg), F R.J. Mahurin (6-9, Jr., 9 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and F Justin Gant (6-8, So., 8.8, 5.5 rpg) are possible starters. G Khristian Smith (6-6, Fr., 6.7), G Lucas Eitel (6-2, So., 4.7), G Devonte Brown (6-3, Fr., 3.3), C Jake Kitchell (6-10, Sr., 3.1), G Brandon Burnett (6-6, Fr., 0.7) and F Rhett Smith (6-7, Fr., 0 ppg) are key reserves.
Coach — Greg Lansing (48-34 at ISU, 3rd year).
Southern Illinois Salukis (7-8, 0-4) — G Kendal Brown-Surles (5-9, Sr., 6.4), G Anthony Beane Jr. (6-2, Fr., 10.1), G-F Desmar Jackson (6-5, Sr., 16 ppg, 5.9 rpg), G-F Jeff Early (6-1, Sr., 13.2, 7.1 rpg) and F Davante Drinkard (6-9, Jr., 2.4) are possible starters. F Dantiel Daniels (6-5, So., 10.8), G Josh Swan (6-2, So., 3.9), G T.J. Lindsay (6-3, Sr., 3.2) and G Jalen Pendleton (6-2, Fr., 3.1) are key reserves.
Coach — Barry Hinson (7-8 at SIU, 1st year, 212-148 overall, 12th year).
Injuries and absences — For ISU, C Mike Samuels (foot) is out. For SIU, C Dantiel Daniels (ankle) is questionable.
Next games — ISU plays host to Missouri State on Wednesday. SIU plays at Bradley on Tuesday.
— Todd Golden