Published December 25, 2011
HONOLULU – Southern Illinois will leave Hawaii empty-handed.
The Salukis (3-8) dropped their third straight game Sunday, an 87-77 loss to No. 14 Xavier, and will depart from the Islands without a win. The Musketeers (9-3), led by 21 points from Tu Holloway, snapped their own three-game losing streak with the win in the seventh-place game of the Diamond Head Classic.
SIU coach Chris Lowery pointed at Holloway as the difference-maker in the game.
"Tu Holloway is an NBA guy," Lowery said. "That's the difference between their club and our club. Their thinker is an NBA guy. He never wavered (or) got shook up and he ran the team."
Dantiel Daniels shot 7 of 8 from the field and made all eight of his free throws to lead the Salukis with a game-high 22 points. He scored 13 of his 22 points in the second half.
Mamadou Seck had 12 points with 10 rebounds, Kendal Brown-Surles hit three 3-pointers to finish with 12 points, and T.J. Lindsay added 11 for the Salukis.
Holloway was feeling the Christmas spirit, so he sported green and white shoes with red laces before a sparse, morning crowd on Christmas Day.
The Musketeers won for the first time since Dec. 10, when they beat Cincinnati in a game cut short in the closing seconds by brawling and mayhem on the court.
"That was as good a game as we played offensively all year," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "On the defense end, we need to get back to being a team that keeps teams to a low field-goal percentage."
It was the first three-game losing streak for Xavier under Mack and first since the 2007-08 season.
Mark Lyons had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Musketeers (9-3). Andre Walker and Travis Taylor added 13 apiece for Xavier, which made 36 of 48 free throws. Walker also had 10 rebounds.
The Salukis (3-8), losers of three in a row, were led by Dantiel Daniels with 22 points.
"We really needed this one," Lyons said. "We got the W. That's what matters."
Southern Illinois drew to 68-64 at 8:45 after a 3-point play by Daniels, but an 8-1 run gave the Musketeers a comfortable cushion. Holloway's two free throws with a minute to go gave the Musketeers their largest lead, 83-69.
Holloway finished 14 of 15 from the line. He took just six shots from the field, making three, including 1 of 2 3-pointers. He also had seven assists.
"I try to do that every game," Holloway said. "Today my teammates were finishing a lot. I'm the point guard of the team, so that's where it starts for us, passing the ball and sharing the ball."
The senior point guard, third-team AP All-American last season, said he was waiting for the perfect occasion to unveil the festive shoes.
"Since I've been in college this is the first time playing on Christmas Day," Holloway said. "I had a pair of Nikes that match the Christmas colors, green and white. I wanted to wear them on Christmas Day and dedicate (the game) to everybody back home for Christmas."
Xavier scored 17 points off 11 SIU turnovers. SIU shot 40 percent and made just 5 of 20 from behind the arc. The Musketeers led 42-36 at halftime.
This was the second meeting between the schools and first since SIU beat Xavier in 1972. The Musketeers lost at home to Oral Roberts a week ago before dropping their first two games in Honolulu, against Long Beach State and Hawaii. The Salukis also lost earlier in the week to Kansas State and Clemson.