Southern Illinois (6-14) at Missouri State (13-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 25, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: JQH Arena (7,152) -- Springfield, Missouri. Television: MVC-TV, FSN-MW. Home Record: SIU 4-5, MSU 9-1. Away Record: SIU 1-7, MSU 3-4. Neutral Record: SIU 1-2, MSU 1-1. Conference Record: SIU 2-5, MSU 3-4. Series Record: Southern Illinois leads, 39-34.
GAME NOTES: Missouri State will be trying to build off a win in its last outing, as the Bears get set to face off with the Southern Illinois Salukis in Missouri Valley Conference action at JQH Arena on Saturday night.
A 64-61 triumph over Evansville on Tuesday ended a three-game losing streak for Missouri State. Long strings of losses have not been the norm for the Bears, who are 13-6 overall and 9-1 at home. However, they have gone just 3-4 in MVC play. Up next is a trip to Drake.
Southern Illinois has lost three of its last four games, with each decided by six points or fewer. Moral victories don't mean much, especially for the Salukis who are just 6-14 overall and 2-5 in league action. They will return home to face Indiana State next.
These teams met in the first round of the 2013 MVC Tournament, with Missouri State pulling out a 61-53 victory for its eighth win in the last nine meetings. However, the Salukis leads the all-time series by a count of 39-34.
Southern Illinois outscored Drake 24-14 in the paint and 19-5 off of turnovers on Wednesday, but a 34.5 percent shooting effort kept the squad from earning the victory. Desmar Jackson paced the Salukis with 15 points, and Sean O'Brien finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the losing effort.
The Salukis are one of the weaker offensive teams in the conference. They are only netting 66.9 ppg, which ranks eighth in the league, although they are fourth in the MVC in field goal percentage (.462). Jackson (20.1 ppg) has done all he can to keep his squad competitive on the scoreboard. The 6-foot-5 guard is second in the league in scoring, and he has reached double figures in every game this season, including eight 20-point efforts. Anthony Beane (10.9 ppg) and Jalen Pendleton (10.8 ppg) are the next most productive scorers, while O'Brien (7.6 ppg, 6 rpg) leads the way on the glass.
Missouri Sate collected 18 offensive rebounds and had a 14-2 edge in second- chance points in its recent win over Evansville. Jarmar Gulley was instrumental in the contest as he had 26 points and 12 rebounds, seven of which came at the offensive end of the floor.
Gulley (14.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg) is not usually so effective on the boards, although both of his double-doubles have come in the last four games. Marcus Marshall (14.6 ppg) was the only other player averaging in double figures for the team, but he is out indefinitely after undergoing right knee surgery. In Marshall's absence, Austin Ruder (7.8 ppg) is the second-best scoring option, although he is only shooting 38.9 percent from the floor and coming off a paltry three-point showing against Evansville. The Bears will need others to step up going forward, especially if they hope to maintain their pace on offense as they rank third in the MVC in scoring (72.8 ppg).
Losing Marshall has clearly taken a toll on Missouri State, which is 1-2 since he went down earlier this month. However, the Bears always seem to play their best at home, so expect them to find a way to win on Saturday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri State 74, Southern Illinois 65
01/25 10:16:04 ET