CARBONDALE — SIU's Aaron Cook and Sean Lloyd were named to the Missouri Valley Conference Most Improved Team, the league announced Wednesday.
Cook, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, more than tripled his scoring average from last season (three points per game to 9.9 this season). He was second on the Salukis (19-12) with 45 steals and started 30 of 31 games.
Cook raised his field goal percentage more than 10 percent from last season to 44.3 percent, more than doubled his 3-point percentage to 39.1, and averaged nearly 30 minutes a game (29.6). He was also clutch. Cook's free throws in the final seconds lifted SIU past Missouri State Feb. 14 and helped the Salukis secure the second seed at this week's MVC Tournament in St. Louis.
Lloyd, a 6-5 junior guard who also made the MVC All-Defensive Team, averaged a team-best 34.4 minutes a game during the regular season. He raised his scoring output 4.3 points per game to 11.9 this year, and also improved his overall shooting (39.5 percent to 47.5), 3-point shooting (34.8 to 37.7), and more than doubled his assists (30 to 66).
Like Cook, Lloyd was clutch during SIU's 11-7 run in MVC play. At Indiana State Feb. 17, his 24-foot 3-pointer in overtime put the Salukis up five. They went on to win, 76-72, for their fifth true road win of the season.
Indiana State sophomore guard Jordan Barnes, the third-leading scorer in the Valley in conference games (17.2 points per game), was the captain of the Most Improved Team. Barnes, Cook and Lloyd joined MVC player of the year Clayton Custer of Loyola, Drake forward Nick McGlynn and Evansville guard Dru Smith on the team.
Tyler Smithpeters, the MVC's Sixth Man of the Year, headlined the All-Bench Team. The senior guard from Harrisburg joined Valparaiso guard Markus Golder, Northern Iowa guard Wyatt Lohaus, Missouri State forward Reggie Scurry, Loyola freshman guard Lucas Williamson and Drake's Graham Woodward on the squad.