GAME NOTES: Playing just their second home game of the season, the Southern Illinois Salukis hope to use the opportunity to avoid their second straight loss on Wednesday as they entertain the Fresno State Bulldogs in non- conference action.
The Salukis opened the 2012-13 campaign with a three-game win streak for the first time since 2007, but that came to an end when they suffered a 61-51 setback against Saint Louis over the weekend on the road. In the previous three outings SIU had scored no less than 71 points each time out, with a high of 100 against Benedictine-Springfield which will go a long way in helping out the team's stats.
As for the Bulldogs, they are out on the road for the fourth time in six games, sporting a 2-1 mark in such outings. However, after putting together a three-game win streak with victories over three California-based programs in UC Riverside, Pacific and Cal Poly, FSU bowed to another Golden State representative in Long Beach State on Sunday afternoon, 69-61, at the Save Mart Center.
The Salukis won the only previous meeting between these two programs, a 93-70 victory in the 1966 College Division NCAA Tournament. This particular meeting represents the third and final game of the MVC-MWC Challenge, with the Salukis having lost both of their previous appearances in the series against UNLV and New Mexico.
Fresno State led the LBSU 49ers by as many as nine points in the first half of their meeting three days ago, but the team began to fall apart in the second half as it converted just 35.7 percent from the field, 2-of-10 beyond the arc and 5-of-10 at the free-throw line, en route to the eight-point loss. Allen Huddleston accounted for 13 points, Tyler Johnson 10 and Kevin Foster a team- high 11 rebounds. Kevin Olekaibe had yet another dismal shooting performance as he made just 3-of-12 from the field, 2-of-7 beyond the arc as the team finished 6-of-22 on the perimeter. Olekaibe, who isn't afraid to take a shot from almost anywhere on the floor these days, has produced only 9.8 ppg on an awful 31.3 percent from the field. Perhaps most telling is the fact that he has made a total of just seven field goals from inside the arc. Huddleston (13.2 ppg) and Foster (11.2 ppg, 9.4 rpg) are the ones carrying the offense at the moment.
Converting just eight field goals in the first half against the Billikens at the Chaifetz Center on Saturday, SIU was in for a long night as it ended up suffering the first loss of the season. For the game, the Salukis made only 36.5 percent from the field and 2-of-9 beyond the arc and never enjoyed a lead against the hosts. Jeff Early tried to keep the visitors close with his game- high 15 points, followed by Dantiel Daniels and Desmar Jackson with 12 and 10 points, respectively, the latter also clearing a game-high eight rebounds as well. A 61.5 percent shooter from the floor over the first four games, Early is the primary scorer for the group with his 19.3 ppg and is also taking care of the action on the glass with 8.8 rpg which has lifted the team to an 8.2 rpg advantage versus the competition. Anthony Beane and Jackson are both contributing 10.8 ppg, although they have combined to shoot just 3-of-18 beyond the arc.
As long as Olekaibe continues to demand the ball and make poor decisions the Bulldogs are going to have a tough time going up against quality opponents and that could easily be the case on Wednesday versus the Salukis.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Illinois 68, Fresno State 63
11/28 10:32:07 ET
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