Missouri State (14-11) at Southern Illinois (8-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 8th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: SIU Arena (9,628) -- Carbondale, Illinois. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: Missouri State 7-5, SIU 6-5. Away Record: Missouri State 7-4, SIU 2-8. Neutral Record: Missouri State 0-2, SIU 0-3. Conference Record: Missouri State 7-6, SIU 5-8. Series Record: Southern Illinois leads, 38-31.
GAMES NOTES: Southern Illinois will try to avenge a loss from earlier this season, when the Salukis bring in the Missouri State Bears for a Missouri Valley Conference clash at SIU Arena.
These teams met for the first time this season in early January and it was Missouri State that took the 77-65 decision on its home court. The Bears have now won five straight games against Southern Illinois and have cut the Salukis' all-time series advantage to 38-31.
Missouri State has traded wins in each of its last six games and is now 7-6 in conference play which is tied with Illinois State for third in the MVC. The Bears return home to face last place Bradley next time out.
Southern Illinois has been on the losing end of things more often than not this season with just an 8-16 overall record. The Salukis have been marginally better in conference play but at 5-8 there is plenty of work to be done. The Salukis have lost five of their last seven games, but did manage to pull off a 53-52 win over Evansville last time out. Missouri State faces Indiana State on the road in its next matchup.
The Bears played their best defensive game of the season on Saturday as Missouri State trashed Drake on its way to a 57-39 triumph. The 39 points were the lowest for any opponent against the Bears this season. In the game, Missouri State held the Bulldogs to just 27.3 percent shooting while knocking down 44.7 percent of its own shots from the floor. The Bears collected eight steals and outrebounded the Bulldogs 36-27 in the win.
On the season Missouri State has a +5.2 scoring differential by netting 67.4 points per game, while holding opponents to just 62.2 per contest. Missouri State is right near the top of the league in ball security, as the Bears have a 1.32 assists-to-turnover ratio, the second best mark in the conference. Senior guard Michael Bizoukas is the primary ball-handler and has dished out an average of 5.9 assists per game, while turning the ball over only 1.8 times on average. Senior forward Kyle Weems (16.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg) is the scorer Bizoukas looks for most often. Weems had 17 points and seven rebounds against Drake and has scored in double figures in all but one game this season. Weems also leads the team in long range shooting, knocking down 42.9 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Anthony Downing (11.1 ppg) and Jamar Gulley (10.9 ppg) are other offensive options for Missouri State.
Southern Illinois took a 34-23 lead into halftime against Evansville and looked to be in control of the game. In the second half the Salukis faltered and found themselves tied 52-52 with 2:24 remaining in the game. Jeff Early netted a free throw with two seconds remaining to help Southern Illinois escape with the victory.
Much of the Salukis' issues this season are offensive in nature. Southern Illinois is scoring just 63.2 points per game and is the third worst shooting team in the conference at 41.1 percent. Senior forward Mamadou Seck is the only consistent double digit scorer as he averages 12.3 points per game. Seck has been a very effective rebounder as well, bringing in 8.0 rpg with no other player managing more than five a game. Seck had his seventh double-double of the season against Evansville with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman forward Dantiel Daniels joins Seck and is second on the team in both scoring (8.4 ppg) and rebounding (4.7 rpg). Daniels is also a skilled defender around the rim, amassing a conference leading average of 1.9 blocks per game. Early, a junior guard, (8.2 ppg) has made it clear that he is the backcourt's go-to scorer and has netted at least 10 points in four straight and six of the last seven games.
Winning on the road is always difficult in conference play and Missouri State will not have an easy time in this matchup. However, the Bears have played well enough away from home with a 7-4 record and with the team's ability to control the ball and the tempo, they should be able to outlast Southern Illinois.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri State 63, Southern Illinois 57
02/08 10:35:07 ET