CARBONDALE — SIU men's basketball coach Barry Hinson didn't want to talk about his team's 3-point shooting after its 71-61 win over Lamar on Sunday.
The Salukis made five of their first 10, but finished the game 6 of 18 to drop their season percentage to 33 percent. Even without junior guard Eric McGill, who SIU recruited partly for his offense, SIU finally looked like the perimeter team Hinson envisioned against North Carolina A&T on Tuesday night. Six different players hit 3-pointers in the first half, and the Salukis canned a season-high 14 triples in a 102-64 victory over the Aggies at SIU Arena.
"I know it's one game," Hinson said, "but this is the team that I thought that we could potentially have."
Tyler Smithpeters' 3-pointer in the final minute gave the Salukis a Hinson era-record 102 points and moved him three triples from tying Chris Lowery for 18th place in school history. Lowery (1991-94), a former point guard that later became the head coach at SIU, made 111 triples in 125 games.
SIU (7-4) made 14 of 25 behind the arc, also a Hinson era-record, to win its third straight game. The Salukis' previous high was 11 in the loss to Southeast Missouri State.
Armon Fletcher's 20 points led six players in double figures, as the Salukis handed out 24 assists on 38 buckets, one assist off the Hinson-era high. Sean Lloyd had 16 points, Jonathan Wiley had 14, and center Kavion Pippen had 11. Aaron Cook, one of six Salukis to hit two or more 3s, had 10 and Smithpeters had 10.
Smithpeters' 3-pointer with 11:41 left in the first half, off a Cook assist, put SIU up 24-14. The fifth-year senior from Harrisburg went 3 of 5 from the field, 2 of 3 from the 3-point line in his first double-digit scoring effort of the season.
"It feels good," said Smithpeters, a career 38 percent 3-point shooter who entered the game shooting 23.5 percent this season. "I've been working on it. I really have no excuses for how poor I've been shooting, so it was nice to see some go in."
Marcus Bartley (3 of 6) and Fletcher (3 of 6) hit three 3-pointers. Cook (2 of 3), Lloyd (2 of 2), Smithpeters (2 of 3) and Gooch (2 of 4) all had two.
Gooch, a 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman guard/forward, made the most of his first minutes in five games. He hit his first shot since Nov. 29, a 3-pointer in the final minute of the first half, to push SIU's lead to 19 (57-38), and added another one in the second half. With McGill out indefinitely with an injured left hand, Gooch played 11 minutes off the bench and delivered six points and two rebounds.
UNC A&T (6-6) got 20 points from forward Femi Olujobi, the nation's 17th-leading scorer who was the only Aggie in double figures. UNC A&T shot 46.2 percent from the field (24 of 52) and 7 of 20 from the 3-point line, but got buried by SIU's new-found prowess behind the arc.
"We've got a group of young men who can score the basketball, and when we share the basketball, we can be special," Hinson said.
SIU plays Nevada (9-2 entering Tuesday night) Friday night at 10 p.m. in Las Vegas. The Wolf Pack, who played UC Davis Tuesday night, were ranked 20th in the country in ESPN.com's latest Basketball Power Index (BPI). They're only losses before Tuesday were on the road at Texas Tech and at home to 20th-ranked TCU.
Hinson called Nevada the best team his squad may play all season.
"We're gonna get a gauge of where we are," he said.