TERRE HAUTE —
Comes the hour, comes the man.
Indiana State needed some good men. Because come the 1 p.m. hour against Southern Illinois on Saturday, came the snooze bar for the Sycamores.
The Sycamores started flat – down by 12 four-minutes-into-the-game level of flat – and needed some heroes to infuse the energy needed to keep their Missouri Valley Conference title hopes alive.
Comes the hour, came Khristian Smith. Later, it was R.J. Mahurin. And then, on ISU’s last possession, who else but Jake Odum?
All three played a role in a 66-65 win for ISU as Odum hit a game-winning layup with 19 seconds left. A win is a win, but it was a result that felt more like survival than a victory.
“They came out and knocked us in the mouth. It’s a credit to our guys that we hung in there, but didn’t necessarily deserve to win that one today,” Odum said.
Mahurin led ISU (16-8, 9-4) with 16 points and was 5-for-7 from 3-point range. Odum had 13. Smith had 12, all scored in the first half.
ISU only led for 2 minutes, 54 seconds of game-time against the league’s last-place team. ISU led the 40th minute that matters, not that it made the Sycamores feel much better about it.
“We have a tough time with [SIU]. They handed it to us down there and did the same thing here. The only reason we won today is we were at home and our fans helped us get through. I commend Southern Illinois. We didn’t deserve to win, they did,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.
Despite the close shave, the day got a whole lot better for the Sycamores at the crack of midnight. Illinois State defeated Creighton 75-72. Creighton's loss lifted the Sycamores and Wichita State into a three-way tie for first place in the MVC. ISU currently have the tiebreaker edge over both the Bluejays and Shockers.