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Salukis off to a nice start


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Men's Basketball smothers Louisiana-Lafayette, 65-47

 

Nov. 18, 2005

 

By Tom Weber

 

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois used its trademark pressure defense to smother Louisiana-Lafayette, 65-47, Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

 

The Salukis' perimeter defense was relentless, forcing 17 turnovers and holding the Ragin' Cajuns to 35 percent shooting from the field.

 

"Those guys guard you," Louisiana-Lafayette coach Robert Lee said afterward. "We played some great basketball teams last year -- Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina State. Nobody that we played last year guarded you like those guards."

 

The SIU backcourt quartet of Tony Young, Jamaal Tatum, Mike Dale and Bryan Mullins combined for eight steals. Young and Tatum were the offensive heroes, as well, scoring 14 points apiece.

 

Southern Illinois needed to win the battle of the guards because the Ragin' Cajuns feature one of the nation's most talented centers, 6-foot-10 Michael Southall.

 

Southall scored 15 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, but had to grapple inside most of the night with Saluki forward Randal Falker.

 

Falker, who gave away three inches in height, yielded nothing when it came to heart.

 

"There are no excuses for our team," said Falker, who had a career-high 12 rebounds. "We are too young, too athletic and we are too much of a family to have anything else."

 

Saluki coach Chris Lowery said the gameplan to stop Southall was to double-team him and play physical defense.

 

"(Our) big guys sacrificed so much today, and they are to be commended," Lowery said. "They sacrificed everything to stop him. That was our total game plan, that's what we worked on. He still gets 15-11, but go ask him how tough that 15 was.

 

"If you guard that guy single coverage, he will destroy you. He is as physical as any big guy we've ever played."

 

Dale, who scored 13 points in his first-career start, said the guards fed off of Falker's play inside.

 

"Randal playing that way tonight really gave our guards confidence that our big man is going to go out every night and battle," Dale said. "Randal showed heart tonight."

 

The Salukis led 33-27 at halftime, but steadily pulled away in the second half behind timely 3-point shooting.

 

Young hit a 3-pointer with 12:50 to go in the game that gave SIU a 46-31 lead, and SIU was never seriously threatened thereafter, leading by as many as 19.

 

The Ragin' Cajuns shot just 26 percent in the second half.

 

"Their guards just completely took our guards out of anything that we tried to attempt to run offensively," Lee said. "We were not able to effectively take advantage of our size advantage on the inside."

 

Southern made 11-of-27 3-point shots in the game, which was more attempts than the team took in any game last season.

 

Ultimately, though, it was Southern's defense that took the heart out of the Ragin' Cajuns.

 

"When guys are constantly pressuring you, you get to the point that you don't want to touch the basketball," Lee said. "Tonight, I saw that in a couple of my guys' eyes that, `Coach, I don't know if I want it.'"

 

Louisiana-Lafayette was in the NCAA Tournament last year and appears talented enough to return in 2006. Lowery said his team was determined to make an early-season statement by beating a quality team.

 

"I looked in their eyes, and I knew they wanted to win," he said. "This group of guys are committed to winning, and they won't know how big a win this is until March."

 

Falker said Southall layed down the gauntlet early in the game, telling the Saluki players they would be unable to guard him. After the game, Southall was complimentary, according to Falker.

 

"A team doesn't know until they come out here," Falker said. "We got the heart of lions."

 

With the victory, Southern extended its home-court winning streak to 25 games, the third-longest streak in the nation.

 

 

Next:

Monmouth @ the Great Alaskan Shootout(11/24/05)

South Carolina or Alaska-Anchorage @ the Great Alaskan Shootout(11/25/05)

TBA @ the Great Alaskan Shootout

St. Louis @ St. Louis(11/30/05 @ Savvis Center)

 

Cant wait till they come back to Carbondale Dec 10th, to face Kent State...the Dawg Pound will be rocking! I'll be there.

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Thank god I got my Southern Illinois-Louisiana Lafayette update for the night.

 

 

Northern Iowa is going to own that conference

 

 

You wish. SIU was picked to finish 4th two years ago and dominated, losing 2 conference games only. We lost Owen, Warren, Brooks, and Hairston, but I think Shaw and Tatum are ready to carry the team. Everyone said we were done when Kent Williams graduated too(after the sweet 16 season).

 

Never count the Dawgs out. But, hey, Iowa has a chance to be better than U of I. That is something.

 

By the way here is the 2005 Great Alaskan Shootout Bracket

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