SIU Edwardsville (2-9) at Southern Illinois (3-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 23, 8:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: SIU Arena (8,339) -- Carbondale, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: SIUE 2-2, SIU 2-2. Away Record: SIUE 0-5, SIU 0-4. Neutral Record: SIUE 0-2, SIU 1-2. Conference Record: SIUE 0-0, SIU 0-0. Series Record: SIU Edwardsville leads, 5-0.
GAME NOTES: The Southern Illinois Salukis will close out a two-game homestand at SIU Arena on Monday night, as they play host to intrastate rival SIU Edwardsville.
SIUE has struggled mightily this season, winning just two of its first 11 games, which includes an 0-5 mark in true road games. The Cougars' slide has continued of late with three straight losses, most recently dropping an 81-64 decision at Chicago State on Dec. 16.
Meanwhile, SIU has not performed much better this season, sporting a lackluster 3-8 record. The Salukis had been losers of four straight games coming into Saturday's showdown with Ball State, and they came away with a 66-58 win to improve to 2-2 at SIU Arena.
These neighboring schools have only met five times before, with SIUE winning each matchup. The Cougars won last season's matchup at home, 71-55.
The Cougars trailed Chicago State by seven points at the half of their latest game and never got closer than that for the rest of the game. They shot 40.7 percent from the field, including an impressive 8-of-19 from 3-point range, but they were plagued by a game-high 18 turnovers and also struggled at the free-throw line (12-of-22). Rozell Nunn led the team in both points (12) and rebounds (six), while Maurice Wiltz and Keaton Jackson were both decent off the bench with 10 points apiece.
SIUE has been solid on offense this season, shooting 44.9 percent from the field for 71.2 points per game, but unfortunately it also has one of the nation's worst defenses, allowing 81.4 points per game on 51.5 percent opponent's field goal percentage. Donivine Stewart (11.4 ppg) is the only player to score in double figures, although Wiltz, Jackson, Nunn and Tim Johnson all net between 8.1 and 8.8 points per game, with Wiltz boasting eye- popping percentages from beyond the arc (.545) and the foul line (.913).
SIU was tied with Ball State with under five minutes to play but ended the game on an 11-3 run to snap its losing streak. It shot an impressive 47.2 percent from the field on the afternoon and made its mark on the defensive end of the floor by forcing 21 turnovers. Jalen Pendleton shined off the bench, shooting 8-of-13 from the field on his way to 21 points. Desmar Jackson tallied 19 points and four steals, while Sean O'Brien logged 10 points and seven rebounds.
Despite sporting a very poor record this season, the Salukis actually outshoot their opponents from the field, 46.4 percent to 42.9 percent, and are neck- and-neck with their adversaries in terms of their scoring (-1.0), rebounding (-0.3) and turnover (+0.9) margins. Jackson ranks in the top-30 nationally in scoring with 20.9 points per game on 47.5 percent from the field. Anthony Beane (12.1 ppg) and Pendleton (11.5 ppg) are also relied upon for consistent contributions.
It's been an ugly start for both of these squads, but SIU has been the more impressive team, with five of its losses coming by single digits. Defending their home floor, the Salukis should be able to dismiss the Cougars.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Illinois 70, SIU Edwardsville 61
12/23 10:34:05 ET