Southern Illinois Salukis vs. Evansville Purple Aces - 1/11/14
Evansville Purple Aces (7-9) at Southern Illinois Salukis (5-11)
College Basketball: Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm (SIU Arena)
The Line: Southern Illinois Salukis -3.5 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds
The Southern Illinois Salukis will attempt to win back-to-back games for just the 2nd time this season as they host the Evansville Aces on Saturday afternoon at SIU Arena.
The Salukis shot a blazing 54% from the field to snag a road win at Loyola on Wednesday. The Ramblers also shot well, but it was the turnover battle that SIU won. (SIU forced 8 more turnovers that Loyola). Senior Desmar Jackson had another career game with 31 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals. This is nothing new for the athletic wing who would be in the running for Valley Player of the Year if he were on a team that contended for the title. Sophomores Anthony Beane (11 ppg) and Jalen Pendleton (13.5 ppg) have been the other consistent performers this season for them. Head coach Barry Hinson has been pleading for consistent effort from his guys, but only after he goes on a rant do they seem to respond and play well. This is a pretty young team and the Salukis are really still in rebuilding mode in Coach Hinson’s second season.
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The Aces of Evansville have gone on a 3-game slide and really haven’t been competitive in their last 2, getting blown out in both home games (vs. Indiana State and Northern Iowa). In their defense (of which they didn’t have much!) their opponents were among the best in the league, but they have normally played the best well on their home court. Head coach Marty Simmons has had difficulty finding scoring aside from sophomore DJ Balentine, who has come into his own as one of the best pure scorers in the conference. Evansville’s roster is composed of mostly underclassmen who are adjusting the college game, so you have to imagine some of these guys will develop nicely in the next couple seasons. On a positive note, the Aces shoot pretty well (47%) from the floor. Their problem is on defense where they surrender about the same shooting percentage. They have a smaller lineup too and have a knack for being outrebounded. Earlier in the season they had success in games against tough competition…they played well enough to beat the likes of Xavier and Murray State on the road, but their defense suffered a letdown in both games to allow both to win by 2 points. Somehow they lost that swagger and haven’t been able to right the ship.
Again it’s hard to know what Saluki team we’ll see from game to game, but I believe this group is riding a little higher after their road win and will be looking to stay ahead of a Valley team they haven’t been able to keep up with in recent seasons. I probably won’t be playing this one, but I have a strong feeling that SIU will not be threatened and will get a 6-7 point win.