EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Things got bad, and then worse for SIU’s men’s basketball team at Evansville on Saturday night.
Colt Ryan’s layup about three minutes into the second half gave the Purple Aces their first double-digit lead of the game, and after Davante Drinkard’s putback was blocked by Jaylon Moore, things went south quickly at the Ford Center for the Salukis.
Ryan grabbed the rebound and scored three of his game-high 26 points off a transition triple to put Evansville up 14. The Purple Aces went on to rout SIU, 85-68, and send the Salukis to their eighth straight Missouri Valley Conference loss dating back to last season.
Evansville’s 85 points were the most SIU allowed this season.
“It’s just a lack of defense,” said SIU guard Jeff Early. “We just gotta play a little bit harder. We just gotta get some stops. We’re not going to beat anybody 67 percent from 3, 57 percent for the game. We shot the ball decent, and got on a roll, but it comes on defense. We just gotta come up with stops, and on the road, we can’t let them get into a groove, and that’s what happened.”
SIU (7-7, 0-3 MVC) started hot, sinking nine of its first 16 shots, and finished 51 percent from the field (26-of-51).
Early led the Salukis with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and was one of three players in double figures for SIU. Freshman guard Anthony Beane Jr. scored 15 points in his 12th start of the season, and Desmar Jackson added 10 off the bench.
Jackson didn’t start because he was late to a team function, Saluki coach Barry Hinson said after the game, adding to SIU’s problems.
The Aces (9-6, 2-1 MVC) shot 57.7 percent from the floor (30-of-52) and 50 percent from behind the 3-point line (9-of-18), even better in the second half, when they converted 6-of-9.
Ned Cox scored 17 points, Lewis Jones had 11 and Troy Taylor scored 10 points to go with his team-high seven rebounds.
SIU coach Barry Hinson wrote the words ‘Be positive’ on his hand to keep reminding himself. Even that struggled to overcome the emotions that came out of him after watching his team quit in the second half.
“We quit. Let’s get to the point where we start saying the words. We quit,” Hinson said. “I’ve been on both sides. I’ve seen teams do it, and very seldom have I had teams do it, but they did it tonight. I even wrote ‘Be positive’ on my hand to look at during the entire game. That’s the hardest thing I had to do tonight, other than watch that game, was to look at this hand, and it was the hardest thing for me to do to be positive because our guys are really struggling right now and they’re really fighting me.
“Not a lot of fun right now. I wish I could say it was, but it’s just not.”
Things don’t get any easier for SIU, which heads to Wichita State next week. The Shockers (13-1 heading into tonight’s game at Bradley) have won four straight games and scored 75 or more points six times this season.
On Twitter: @Todd_Hefferman