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Friday, March 23, 2007

Salukis falter down stretch

'We ran out of time'

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— In a close, low-scoring basketball game, little, late hiccups can end a season.

Just ask Southern Illinois.

The Salukis went nearly the entire game without any big blunders, but certain points in the last few minutes cost them dearly Thursday in the HP Pavilion. That led to Kansas University's 61-58 come-from-behind victory in the NCAA Tournament regional semifinal, advancing the Jayhawks to the Elite Eight.

"We missed a layup, we had a turnover," SIU coach Chris Lowery said. "Things that we normally convert, and normally we take care of the ball in that situation, and we didn't.

"But I don't think it got away," Lowery added. "I think we ran out of time."

The Salukis' last great sniff of the lead came with 2:34 to play, when Bryan Mullins stole the ball in the backcourt and had a relatively clear path to the basket. He blew the layup, though, and a Jamaal Tatum put-back didn't fall, either.

Kansas held on to its 54-53 lead, and the Salukis never took it back.

"Easy shot," Tatum said of his put-back. "One of those shots you play when you're little, 21 tip-out, you always tip the shot in. I don't know if I could've shot it any softer than I did."

Regardless, the Salukis stayed alive - at times despite themselves.

Down 61-58, Tatum had a great look for the tie with 10 seconds to go. But he missed it, and Randal Falker's offensive rebound was nullified when he threw the ball away.

"That's the things where we talked about poise and composure coming out of the locker room at halftime," Lowery said. "We can't have those things. (The Jayhawks) are too good."

Though Kansas failed to capitalize on the ensuing free throws, the clock became the Salukis' biggest enemy. A desperation half-court three-pointer by Tony Young at the buzzer barely missed, ending Southern Illinois' season with a 29-7 record.

Those mistakes aside, Southern Illinois played a fabulous defensive game as expected, particularly on the perimeter. Kansas (33-4) shot a high percentage from the field, but never got many solid looks from three-point land.

SIU, meanwhile, was 6-of-25 from behind the arc, another stain on its mostly solid performance.

"I'm definitely proud of the way everybody on the team stepped up and played," Tatum said. "With that said, it's still a loss. There's no moral victories just because they're Kansas and we're Southern Illinois, as you guys put it, 'the mid-major.'"

It could be a watershed offseason for Southern Illinois. Both of Thursday's top scorers, Tatum and Young, graduate, and speculation surely will link Lowery to a number of coaching vacancies around college basketball.

Lowery dismissed the question of his future when posed to him Thursday, saying, "I'm the coach at Southern Illinois right now. That's the most important thing."

But Tatum was a little more outgoing about the situation, even though he was not asked specifically about it by reporters.

"I know a lot of schools are going to be trying to get him right now, but they are going to have to come with it if they want him for real," Tatum said, "because he ain't going nowhere."

Comments

Lance Hobson 7 years, 8 months ago

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Let's kick UCLA's ass!

mcoan 7 years, 8 months ago

Who are the other 6 teams that beat these guys, and how?

justinryman 7 years, 8 months ago

mcoan, Crieghton got them good in the MVC finals. I think everyone has bad games, just look at KU this year in thier 4 loses. Some nights just arent yours. As for SIU they will have a tough climb back next year, especially if they lose thier coach.

mcoan 7 years, 8 months ago

I suggest that other J-W posters do the sportsman-like thing and visit http://www.thesouthern.com/articles/2007/03/23/sports/19705346.txt to post some good comments about the Salukis.

doctorWho 7 years, 8 months ago

Self deserves some credit for this W. I don't agree with Jay Bilas often, but the key to the win was to start attacking their defense with the dribble. SIU responded poorly to this pressure. A good free throw shooting team with dribble pressure would have beat SIU by 10 last night. Since KU isn't a good free throw shooting team - not even Chalmers was making them consistently last night - we simply got lucky.

The good news is we got our "bad" shooting game out of the way now. We will not be able to afford cold shooting like last night again. You have to credit the Salukis for part of that though. They were very smart in only leaving Robinson open for threes.

Game over. Now, it's time to go bag a Bruin.

relphie 7 years, 8 months ago

we didnt have bad shooting, we shot 60%

digitalkookie 7 years, 8 months ago

mcoan...thanks for the link...truly hope others follow suit. kudos to the siu team and staff...

justinryman 7 years, 8 months ago

I did think SIU played a good game...but with that being said, how many times can a team flop on the floor like a fish out of water. The first half they got the calls, I was just glad to see that in the secong half they just let them lay there. I was waiting for the warning to them from the refs as it was getting so bad. Just ask Sherron as he was trying to play D as Tatum went falling back setting a moving screen.

ralsterKUMed95 7 years, 8 months ago

I agree somewhat with JHAWKGRAD about the commentators: all I heard about all game long was the SIU defense. FINALLY, late in the game they started giving kudos to our KU defense and especially Russell Robinson, who was hounding Tatum all night--our defense isnt too shabby either (top 5). Pity aTm lost, for the sake of the BigXII. I am really proud of our team, they have won some really tight, gritty games lately like the 2 vs TX, and certainly this one vs. SIU. And they wont get any easier. Like Kirk Hinrich spoke to the team in Chicago last week: You have to not just want it, you have to go get it! Im hoping they do.

JHAWKGRAD97 7 years, 8 months ago

KU was clearly playing 8 opponents. 5 SIU players and 3 Refs. This was one of the worst called games I have watched. I was suprised to see that SIU got more fouls called on them but then again that was there game plan. But with the refs feeling guilty they gave every 50/50 call to SIU especially in the first half.
CBS commentors were terrible, it is the worst to listen to someone that only announces games in March each year. I sure wish ESPN would buy the rights to this tournament. Great Win Hawks lets get the Bruins!

jayhawkaloogie 7 years, 8 months ago

I agree about the commentators. I normally like Jay Bilas, but he would not stop harping on Wright's shot-clock violation and the KU-losing-to-mid-majors thing.

Doctor who: I'm not sure Self gets a whole lot of credit for this one. It seemed to me that we got by on pure talent alone. Even Self admitted that "you can't run plays" against SIU. I'm not just Self-bashing here, but isn't it the coach's job to figure out how to score?

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