CARBONDALE, ILL. —
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team struggled against Southern Illinois and was ripe for the picking during most of Saturday’s contest at SIU Arena.
As the game played out, it became a matter of whether the Salukis could take advantage of the Sycamores’ woes.
Uneasy lay SIU’s head as it tried to hold repeated leads, including a nervous final two minutes, but if the Salukis couldn’t bury the Sycamores, ISU couldn’t make SIU pay for it. The Salukis put ISU away in the final minute and the Sycamores fell 76-71.
"We deserve what we got tonight. We put on the board tonight, 'Be the more desperate and determined team.' I thought from start to finish, [SIU] was the more desperate and determined team. They wanted the win more than we did," ISU coach Greg Lansing said.
It was SIU’s first Missouri Valley Conference victory in five tries. The loss dropped ISU (10-6, 3-2) into the MVC pack and the Sycamores are two games behind MVC leader Creighton.
"We didn't have a consistent effort. You have to give credit to SIU. They had a lot of energy and they were the hungrier team. That's not us. We're usually the hungrier team," ISU forward Manny Arop said.
ISU had no answer for SIU swingman Desmar Jackson. One game after being publicly berated by SIU coach Barry Hinson, the senior scored 29 for the Salukis, including 23 in the second half.
"Our strength has been our help defense and it wasn't what it usually is and you can't bail out with fouls. Jackson shot 13 free throws tonight," Lansing said.
ISU was led by Arop’s 16 points, but the Sycamores were victimized by 19 turnovers.
"We had a ton of turnovers and we never stopped [turning it over]. It's hard to win a game that way," said ISU guard Lucas Eitel, who had 15 points for the Sycamores.