CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Matt Shaw scored 21 points and nine
rebounds to propel Southern Illinois to a 69-53 victory over
Oklahoma State in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night.
The No. 4 Salukis (18-14) advanced to the second round behind an
active defense that held the No. 5 Cowboys (17-16) to 35.3 percent
shooting, including just 4-of-25 from behind the 3-point arc.
Visibly flustered in their first trip to Carbondale in more than
40 years, the Cowboys struggled and were slow getting to the loose
ball. Southern Illinois outrebounded Oklahoma State 22-8 in the
first half and 39-21 in the game.
No one sent a message more on the offensive glass than Saluki
forward Randal Falker, who repeatedly slammed errant balls into the
Falker finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, with five
coming on the offensive end. Joshua Bone added 11 points and Tony
Boyle scored 10 points for the Salukis.
Guard Terrel Harris sparked the Cowboy offense early, scoring
eight of the team's first 10 points. But the Salukis kept him quiet
for the rest of the half as he went 0-for-6 from long range.
Harris finished with a team-high 20 points. James Anderson added
13 for the Cowboys.
After trading baskets for most of the game, Southern Illinois
ended the half on an 8-3 run to lead 26-19.
Oklahoma State hit consecutive 3-pointers after starting the
game 0-for-13. But the Salukis were quick to respond both times,
answering with 3-pointers of their own on both ensuing possessions.
After the Cowboys went cold from outside, Southern Illinois
stifled their presence inside with a defense that kept shots from
the block falling off the side of the rim.
The Salukis played the game without starting point guard Bryan
Mullins, who missed his first game of the season with a stress
fracture in his leg.
Without their leading assist man, the Salukis committed several
unforced errors early. But in his stead was Tyrone Green, a guard
known more for his defense than ball-handling skills. Green
finished with a career-high eight assists and zero turnovers.
The win was Southern Illinois' first NIT victory since 2000. The
team entered the NCAA Tournament in the six previous seasons before
falling short of a bid this year.