Southern Illinois (14-18) vs. Indiana State (22-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 5:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scottrade Center (22,000) -- St. Louis, Missouri. Television: MVC TV, CSN-CHI. Home Record: SIU 9-5, ISU 11-2. Away Record: SIU 3-11, ISU 9-6. Neutral Record: SIU 2-2, ISU 2-1. Conference Record: SIU 9-9, ISU 12-6. Series Record: Southern Illinois leads, 79-45.
GAME NOTES: The sixth-seeded Southern Illinois Salukis will try for another upset on Saturday afternoon when they take on the second-seeded Indiana State Sycamores in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at the Scottrade Center.
A berth in the championship game is at stake in this bout, with the winner playing the survivor of the Wichita State/Missouri State semifinal in Sunday's title game.
SIU opened up its stay in the tournament by taking down third-seeded Northern Iowa in the quarterfinals on Friday, 63-58. The Salukis are just 14-18 overall this season, but they have picked a great time to get hot, as they have won four of their last five games.
Indiana State's stellar season continued in its quarterfinal-round matchup, as it dismissed Loyola-Chicago, 75-62. The Sycamores were able to avenge a three- game losing streak to close out the regular season and in the process moved to 22-9 overall.
The teams split two meetings during the regular season, with each squad winning on its home floor. Indiana State has won seven of the past 10 meetings, but SIU still holds a 79-45 advantage in the all-time series.
The Salukis appeared well in control up by 19 early in the second half on Friday night, but while they nearly suffered an epic collapse as UNI battled back to tie the game with 3:32 left, they saved themselves by pulling away with a 5-0 run. The squad finished the contest shooting only 39.3 percent from the field, but luckily it held UNI to an even worse 35.1 percent and earned extra possessions by winning the turnover battle, 17-12. Desmar Jackson was a difference maker all over the floor, shooting 8-of-14 (3-of-4 from 3-point range) for 23 points to go with 11 rebounds and six steals. Anthony Beane was stellar as well with 16 points and seven boards.
Although SIU shoots just shy of 46 percent from the field this season, that production has only resulted in 67.2 ppg, which has spoiled an impressive scoring defense (67.1 ppg). Jackson is one of the MVC's best, putting up 18.9 ppg on greater than 47 percent shooting while adding 5.7 rpg and 2.5 spg for good measure. Beane (14.6 ppg) has knocked down 51 3-pointers at greater than 40 percent efficiency.
The Sycamores barely broke a sweat in their opening game of this event, as they never trailed en route to the 13-point victory. The squad shot an impressive 52.9 percent from the field while holding Loyola to a mere 34 percent shooting, and it also outscored the Ramblers in the paint (36-14) and won the rebounding battle (35-27). The winning effort was paced by Jake Odum, who scored a game-high 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the floor. Justin Gant pitched in 14 points, while Devonte Brown came off the bench to tally 12 points and six rebounds.
Indiana State has displayed strong balanced this season by outshooting its opponents from the field, 45.6 percent to 43.6 percent, for a +3.8 scoring margin, and it also lives in the green in terms of rebounding (+1.3) and turnovers (+0.5) while shooting a stellar 72.2 percent from the free-throw line. Odum scores a team-best 13.1 ppg and boasts an outstanding assist (140) to turnover (57) ratio. Khristian Smith (10.9 ppg), Manny Arop (10.7 ppg), Dawon Cummings (10.0 ppg) and Gant (9.9 ppg) are also regular contributors to the deep squad.
SIU has built up momentum of late and is certainly capable of defeating Indiana State, as it proved earlier this season, but the Sycamores appeared to be in midseason form on Friday and are the more talented bunch, meaning a trip to the championship game is likely in their future.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Indiana State 72, Southern Illinois 66
03/08 11:33:41 ET