Bloomington, Ind. – It might not have been as pretty as IU Coach Kelvin Sampson would have wanted, but it was the result Indiana desperately needed.
Spearheaded by the play of freshmen Xavier Keeling and Armon Bassett, Indiana put together a 12-0 second half run to turn a 39-39 tie into a 12-point cushion and the Hoosiers came away with a much needed 57-47 win over a very good Southern Illinois squad Sunday at Assembly Hall.
Indiana improved to 6-3 with the win, while Southern Illinois slipped to 7-2.
Bassett scored four of his 11 points during the IU run, while Keeling got things started with a free-throw and was on the top of a 1-3-1 Hoosier zone that befuddled its Missouri Valley Conference foe during that stretch. The result was three Salukis missed shots, three Jamaal Tatum turnovers, and a decisive run that earned IU its first quality win of the season.
"They switched to zone and we panicked a little bit," said Southern Illinois Coach Chris Lowery. "We threw some lolly-pops up in the air, and that was the game."
The Hoosiers were led in scoring by A.J. Ratliff, who finished with 14 points, including 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc. Like Keeling and Bassett, Ratliff came off the bench, helping Indiana to a 31-6 edge in bench points.
"We wanted to get them to go away from their primary scorers, which we did," Lowery said. "To get six from Keeling and 14 from A.J. Ratliff, that's 20 points I don't think they were expecting."
Keeling, who had played only 17 minutes in the season's first eight games, played 15 against SIU, and got IU's decisive run started with a free throw to give IU a 40-39 lead with 7:45 remaining. After an SIU miss at the other end, Bassett knocked down a pair of free throws to push the lead to three. Saluki forward Matt Shaw missed a jumper, and Rod Wilmont hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to six.
At that point, IU's defense forced Tatum into three straight turnovers, and IU scored on three of its next four trips. Bassett hit a jumper, Wilmont scored on a fastbreak layup after a Keeling steal, and Ratliff converted a pair of free throws to give IU a 51-39 lead with 3:32 remaining. The Salukis would get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
Tatum, who scored 13 of his game-high 17 in the first half, committed five turnovers in the second half against IU's in-your-face defense.
"We got guarded," Lowery said. "(Sampson) put some guys in that put on a plot of pressure. They turned the heat up…we had some really bad turnovers."
The Hoosier win came in spite of some struggles on the offensive end. Indiana fell behind 11-3 in the game's first six minutes and shot just 30 percent in the opening half and trailed at intermission 23-22. D.J. White was limited to just six shots and eight points in 36 minutes, while Lance Stemler went a second straight game without making a field goal, finishing with just three free throws.
Despite those struggles, Indiana was able to stay close and eventually overtake Southern Illinois thanks to its work on the defensive end. Indiana forced 20 SIU turnovers, mixed up its defensive looks, and contested just about every SIU pass and shot.
Sampson said his team has made strides in maintaining its defensive intensity even when the team struggles on offense.
"We had a lot of shots that can probably go in for us…but we never stopped defending," Sampson said. "We competed and played hard…Both teams were competing. It wasn't bad offense as much as it was good defense."
While IU's 38.1 percent shooting marked the second straight game its been held to less than 40 percent shooting, one area Indiana was much better at was getting to the free throw line. The Hoosiers attempted 31 free throws, just one short of its season-high of 32 against Indiana State.
The Hoosiers did miss nine of their first 17 attempts from the line and wound up just 19-of-31 (61.3 percent), but Sampson was pleased with the fact his team attacked off the dribble more than it has at just about anytime this season.
"There are two areas we wanted to win tonight – rebounding and get to the free throw line more than they did," said Sampson. "One thing we were much better at tonight was driving the basketball."
D. White 3-6 2-6 8, Stemler 0-4 3-4 3, Wilmont 3-6, 0-0 7, Shaw 1-3 0-1 3, Calloway 1-5 3-4 5, Bassett 1-5 3-4 5, Suhr 0-0 0-0 0, Ratliff 4-7 3-6 14, M. White 0-0 0-0 0, Keeling 1-2 4-6 6. Totals 16-42 19-31 57.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 47
Falker 1-4 3-4 5, Shaw 3-8 2-2 8, Tatum 6-8 4-4 17, Mullins 2-4 1-2 6, Young 2-6 1-2 5, Green 0-0 0-0 0, Foster 0-0 1-2 1, Clemmons 1-2 2-2 5, Boyle 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-33 14-18 47.
3-Pointers: Indiana 6-12 (Ratliff 3-4, Wilmont 1-2, Shaw 1-1, Bassett 1-3, Stemler 0-1, Calloway 0-1), Southern Illinois 3-10 (Tatum 1-2, Mullins 1-1, Clemmons 1-1, Shaw 0-4, Young 0-2). Rebounds: Indiana 28 (Wilmont 7), Southern Illinois 23 (Falker 4). Assists: Indiana 10 (Calloway 3, Bassett 3, Ratliff 3), Southern Illinois 7 (Young 3). Turnovers: Indiana 11 (D. White 4), Southern Illinois 20 (Tatum 5). Blocks: Indiana 4 (Stemler, Calloway, Ratliff, Keeling), Southern Illinois 3 (Falker 2). Steals: Indiana 9 (Ratliff 3), Southern Illinois 2 (Shaw, Young). Officials: Ted Hillary, Steve Welmer, Eugene Crawford. Attendance: 13,029.
Bench Boosts IU Past SIU
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