Mens Basketball: Salukis steal one from Bows

Hawaii comes up short in Bracket Buster game at #20 Sothern Illinois as the Salukis force 21 steals in the 66-62 win.

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Darren Brooks' 3-pointer with 29.1 seconds remaining clinched Southern Illinois' 66-62 victory over the Hawai'i men's basketball team, in the featured game of ESPN's Bracket Buster Saturday event. The Rainbow Warriors (17-7) dropped its second consecutive game for the first time this season in front of a sell-out crowd of 9,628 and national television audience on ESPN at the SIU Arena.

Forward Phil Martin scored 20 points to pace the 'Bows. The senior finished 6-of-11 from the field and was 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Forward Jeff Blackett, who started for the second straight game in place of an injured Haim Shimonovich, added 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Leading scorer Michael Kuebler scored 14 points but failed to convert a 3-pointer, ending his school-record 19 game streak with at least one trey. As a team, UH was 0-of-8 from beyond the arc, the first time in 34 games the team failed to convert from long range.

The Salukis' pressure defense forced 21 steals, a UH opponent record and caused the 'Bows to turn the ball over 24 times, tying a season-high. Brooks finished with a team-high 18 points while Tony Young had nine points and six steals as the Salukis (22-2) won for the 12th straight time.

SIU jumped out to a 16-12 lead after consecutive buckets by Brad Korn. UH answered back in a big way, using an 11-0 run to forge ahead 23-16 with 8:36 to play. SIU closed to 23-21 but the 'Bows responded with buckets by Julian Sensley, Blackett and Martin. The teams traded basket for basket until the half, with the 'Bows leading 38-35.

Martin played an inspired first half, scoring 11 points while Kuebler matched him with team-high honors. The 'Bows shot 50 percent from the field but committed 12 turnovers. In contrast, the Salukis shot 41.7 percent and had 11 giveaways.

UH scored the first four points of the second half to take a seven-point lead. The Salukis inched their way back and tied the game at 45 on Josh Warren's 3-point play with 14:32 remaining.

SIU took its first lead of the second half on Lamar Odom's lay-up at 53-51. The Salukis poured it on with three more baskets to take a 59-51 lead, the largest margin by any team during the game. UH answered the call by scoring six straight to close to 60-57 with 4:50 left.

Both teams squandered on its next possessions. A pair of Blackett free throws pulled UH to 60-59 with 2:11 remaining. But Lamar Owen's dunk off a Brooks miss gave SIU a three-point advantage. A Kuebler free throw brought the 'Bows to within 62-60 but Brooks sealed the victory with his last minute dramatics.

The 'Bows return to Honolulu for its final homestand beginning with Friday's game against Tulsa and Sunday's Senior Night versus Rice. Tip-off for the Tulsa game is 7:05 p.m. while the Rice game is scheduled to tip-off at 3:05 p.m.

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