CARBONDALE - Mykel Cleveland's unfortunate first minute Wednesday night opened the door for Kendal Brown-Surles, and the sophomore point guard didn't disappoint.
In a career-high 32 minutes against New Mexico, Brown-Surles handed out a career-high eight assists and scored 10 points at SIU Arena. Cleveland, a junior point guard transfer from Southwestern Illinois College, drew two fouls in the opening 20 seconds in Southern Illinois University's 74-59 loss to the Lobos, and played only one minute the entire game. In Cleveland's absence, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Brown-Surles became one of the few bright spots in the Salukis' second home loss of the season.
"Coach told me to be more aggressive, so that's what I'm trying to do to the best of my ability. At the same time, still be the floor general, because that's what the point guard is, to get the ball where it needs to be," Brown-Surles said.
Brown-Surles' 10 points was his second-highest output this season. He added five rebounds and a steal, and, with junior forward Mamadou Seck, could step into the starting lineup Saturday at Chicago State.
SIU coach Chris Lowery hinted at a possible lineup change after Wednesday's game, and said he was still moving in that direction Thursday. Brown-Surles started SIU's first two games of the season, but came off the bench in the Salukis' last five. Seck, a 6-7 junior forward who had 10 points and four rebounds Wednesday night, is the team's best scorer (8.3 points per game) and rebounder (6.5 per game) off the bench this year.
"I think Kendal's established himself as our point guard, at this point. When you play that many minutes, and you do those things," Lowery said. "We're still waiting for Mykel to get going, and we can't wait for guys any more, so, obviously, Kendal and Seck being in the lineup is a thing that we're gonna do, because, when they're in, our energy level is different, and Seck is a whole different animal at the ‘3' or the ‘4' when he's in."
Seck has scored in double figures in four games this season and is one of the team's best free-throw shooters at 74.1 percent. Seck made 8-of-12 at the line Wednesday night and is 20-of-27 on the season.
SIU (3-4) and the Cougars (2-6) square off at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Jones Convocation Center in Chicago. The Salukis are 9-0 against CSU, but haven't played the Cougars since 1990.