By The Numbers
4 - Number of consecutive losses by SIU after Thursday's 78-60 defeat at the Ford Center.
23 - Turnovers by the Salukis against Evansville, a season-high. SIU forced Evansville into 18 turnovers.
26 - Points off SIU's turnovers by the Purple Aces, who won back-to-back games for the first time all season.
Grading the Salukis
The percentages weren't awful (41.1 percent from the field, 66.7 percent at the free-throw line), outside the 3-point line, but SIU simply never got going with the basketball Thursday night. In their Missouri Valley Conference opener, the Salukis gave away four possessions in the opening six minutes on the road and put themselves in catch-up mode. SIU finished with a season-high 23 turnovers, four by Mamadou Seck and Justin Bocot, and without Kourtney Goff, who was sick, struggled taking care of the basketball.
Evansville is a talented offensive team, and showed why against SIU. Colt Ryan missed eight of 14 attempts from the field, but got the line 11 times, dropping 10, to finish with a game-high 25 points. At the top of the scouting report, the Salukis allowed Ryan to get going early, and Kenny Harris and Denver Holmes lined up in step with 11 points apiece. The Purple Aces got the shots they wanted, and when they got up double-digits, got to the line enough to hold off SIU's late rally. Evansville's 37 attempts was the second-most by an SIU opponent this season, next to Xavier's 48 attempts in Hawaii.
SIU's opportunity in what was a winnable game went south quickly on the road. Against a good offensive team, the Salukis handed Evansville the chance to jump ahead early, and the Purple Aces gladly accepted. Colt Ryan got going early and finished with a game-high 25 points. Evansville grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, scoring 12 second-chance points, and got 26 points off SIU's season-high 23 turnovers. The loss of Goff, who was sick, did not help SIU's chances, but the Salukis' struggling defense and inconsistent offense proved fatal Thursday night.
Stat line: 9-of-13 from the field, 2-of-2 from the free-throw line, eight rebounds, 20 points, three assists, four turnovers, one block and two steals in 35 minutes.
Seck set the tone, again, for SIU's offense Thursday night against Evansville. He faced up, went around people and helped the Salukis beat Evansville off the boards, 36-30, with eight boards. Seven of his rebounds came at the offensive end. His 20 points tied his career-high, which he set against Western Kentucky.
Stat line: 3-of-7 from the field, 1-of-3 from the 3-point line, 6-of-6 at the free-throw line, three rebounds, 13 points, two assists, two turnovers and two steals in 24 minutes.
Brown-Surles was one of the most vocal Salukis out on the court Thursday night. He missed a few open 3s he surely wanted back after the game, but was 6-of-6 at the stripe and helped key a surge in the second half that got SIU within 13. It was his second straight game in double figures after scoring 12 against Xavier.
Kenny Harris shines: Former John A. Logan College standout Kenny Harris, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, scored 11 points to go with eight rebounds Thursday night against SIU.
Harris made 4-of-11 from the field and 3-of-8 from the free-throw line in Evansville's 78-60 victory. He grabbed four of his eight boards at the offensive end and tied Troy Taylor for the Aces' steals lead, with three, in 32 minutes.
Harris entered the game averaging 12.6 points and 5.1 rebounds a game.
The Aces grabbed 12 offensive rebounds but were out-rebounded by six, 36-30.
Starting five No. 9: With Kourtney Goff out sick, SIU started its ninth different lineup of the season at Evansville.
Kendal Brown-Surles, an Evansville native, started at the point guard spot with Josh Swan and forwards Davante Drinkard, Mamadou Seck and Dantiel Daniels. Brown-Surles made 3-of-7 from the floor and 6-of-6 at the free-throw line to finish with 13 points in 24 minutes. He had two assists and two turnovers, as well as two steals.
Goff, a junior college transfer from Olive Harvey College in Chicago, had started the last five games at the point for SIU with 11 assists and six turnovers.
Murdered at the line: Evansville made 26-of-37 at the free-throw line Thursday night. It was the most free-throw attempts by a Saluki opponent since No. 14/15 Xavier attempted 48 in the seventh-place game of the Diamond Head Classic Sunday.
SIU made 12-of-18 at the stripe, and has now been outshot at the free-throw line 342-263. Opponents have scored 231 points at the stripe. SIU has scored 182 points.
Opponents in SIU's last three games are a combined 88-of-119.