Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson brings the Missouri Valley Conference’s youngest team, carrying the conference’s longest losing streak, into the toughest road venue.
To play the Valley’s highest-ranked team.
It is a dark time in Carbondale. Especially after the Salukis lost a devastating game Saturday, leading Indiana State for almost 38 minutes at home before losing 59-56 on a three-pointer with four seconds remaining.
“We’ve lost six in a row and we’re catching one of the best teams in the country,” Hinson said. “You can only imagine our feelings right now.”
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The Salukis (7-10, 0-4 MVC) are in a desperate search for scoring as they visit Koch Arena on Wednesday to play No. 13 Wichita State (14-2, 4-0). They haven’t scored more than 56 points in a conference games and twice failed to reach 50. In MVC play, SIU ranks last in three-point shooting (20.4 percent), turnover margin (minus-3.75) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.5).
The struggles of junior guard Anthony Beane sum up SIU’s problems. Beane, a second-team All-MVC pick as a sophomore, averaged 14.7 points and made 47.1 percent of his shots and 39.4 percent of his three-pointers last season. This season, he averages 16.5 points, but is shooting 41.5 percent and 25.7 percent from three-point range. He is 1 for 21 from behind the arc and 11 of 58 overall in four MVC games.
With seven freshmen and sophomores in the rotation, Beane is the focus of every defense. He missed all 10 of his shots against Northern Iowa and 13 of 15 against Bradley. Against Indiana State, he went 5 for 14 and missed six three-pointers.
Defenders follow him everywhere, never helping off him. A second, sometimes a third, defender is always watching and ready to help. That attention is part of the problem, but Beane is also missing shots he normally makes.
“Anthony is just missing shots,” Hinson said. “I know that Wichita State will put an emphasis on him, they’ll probably put (Tekele) Cotton on him.”
Last season Beane enjoyed help from high-scoring guard Desmar Jackson. With Jackson gone, defenses fear no other Saluki.
“People can concentrate on Anthony right now because none of our other guards can score,” Hinson said. “We just have absolutely nobody right now taking up the slack to take a little bit of pressure off him.”
Wichita State is in a much brighter place, and not just because they play the Salukis at home. The Shockers are coming off a 67-53 win at Loyola in which they played 20 minutes of high-level basketball after halftime. They outscored Loyola 44-25 and held the Ramblers to eight second-half baskets, two of which came in the final 64 seconds against WSU’s deep reserves.
WSU blocked five shots in the second half, two by freshman Shaquille Morris. With Morris and Darius Carter acting as goalies near the rim, sometimes together, the Ramblers rarely ventured into the lane and scored only three baskets inside the three-point arc in the second half.
“Shaq demands a lot of attention down there,” WSU guard Fred VanVleet said. “There’s not many bodies that can bang with him down there in the Valley. He just makes space, whether he’s getting the ball or rebounding. Blocked shots, on the defensive end, he helps us there by erasing mistakes.”
As so often happens, WSU’s offense came alive at the same time. WSU made 6 of 10 three-pointers and 15 of 21 shots in the second half. That is WSU’s best accuracy for a half since it made 80 percent (20 of 25) in a 91-74 win at Davidson in 2012.
“When Tekele and Evan (Wessel) are shooting threes in, it makes us very hard to guard,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said.
Southern Illinois at
No. 13 Wichita State
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Koch Arena
Records: SIU 7-10, 0-4 MVC; WSU 14-2, 4-0
Radio: KEYN, 103.7-FM
TV: Cox 22
Southern Illinois at
No. 13 Wichita State
SIU: (7-10, 0-4 MVC): SIU’s six-game losing streak matches the longest of coach Barry Hinson’s two-plus seasons. Beane is 3 for 30 from three-point range in those games and the Salukis have committed 83 turnovers to 45 assists … SIU owns six wins over NCAA Division I opponents, who are 14-76 against NCAA Division I teams … Caroline, the son of former NFL linebacker Simeon Rice, is third among MVC freshmen in scoring and second in rebounding … According to kenpom.com, SIU is the MVC’s youngest team, with an average experience level of 1.05 seasons. Missouri State is second at 1.41, while WSU ranks sixth at 1.64. SIU is also the smallest team, according to kenpom.com, with an average height of 75.5 inches. WSU is fifth at 76.2.
Wichita State (14-2, 4-0): WSU has won eight of the past 10 meetings … The Shockers lead the MVC and rank 14th nationally with a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio, the best of coach Gregg Marshall’s seven-plus seasons. WSU’s turnover margin of plus-4.12 also leads the MVC and is No. 13 nationally. WSU’s previous best under Marshall was plus-1.72 last season. VanVleet ranks 12th nationally with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.54.
RPIs as of Tuesday: SIU 316, WSU 9.