CARBONDALE — Sean Lloyd nearly did enough for SIU's men's basketball team at the defensive end to beat Indiana State on Saturday, helping limit Tyreke Key to more than nine points under his scoring average.
Key, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound sophomore guard that had drawn more than 80 free-throw attempts in his first 13 conference games, took only three at the Hulman Center on Saturday. The league's leading scorer during Valley play at more than 17 points per game, Key went 3 of 13 from the field, and finished SIU's 79-57 win with eight points in just over 32 minutes.
"We've not guarded lately," SIU coach Barry Hinson said. "It was an emphasis coming into this game, especially after what happened against Drake. We didn't rebound. We got outrebounded the last time we played these guys. They shot 48 percent. Batman and Robin (Key and Jordan Barnes) had 45 points, so you just saw our game plan going into (Saturday)."
Lloyd, a 6-5, 215-pound senior, committed only two fouls in more than 34 minutes and grabbed seven of SIU's 40 rebounds.
Key, who has scored 26.1 percent of his points at the charity stripe this season, scored less than 10 points for the first time in his last nine games. He scored a career-high 32 points in the Sycamores' 87-82 overtime win at Valparaiso Wednesday night.
"Sean is a physical player himself. You got two bullies going at each other," SIU guard/forward Armon Fletcher said. "It's kinda hard to get leverage, but Sean is a tremendous defensive player. He's probably one of our best guys at the defensive end. He forced Keys into a lot of tough shots."
Barnes, a junior who was a preseason first team all-conference pick after scoring 17.4 points per game last season, had 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Barnes also had four of Indiana State's eight turnovers. Cooper Neese, a transfer guard from Butler that moved into the starting lineup at Valparaiso, led the Sycamores (13-13, 5-9 Missouri Valley Conference) with 14 points. Backup center Emondre Rickman had 12 of Indiana State's 20 points off the bench.
Lloyd scored 21 points, tying center Kavion Pippen for game-high honors, and made 8 of 9 at the free-throw line. It was Lloyd's best offensive game since scoring 25 in the Salukis' (14-13, 7-7) win at Southeast Missouri State in their 10th game of the season.
Indiana State trailed by 12 at the half and shot 33.3 percent from the field (21 of 63), the Sycamores' worst shooting performance since beating Bradley Jan. 5. Indiana State shot 31.4 percent against the Braves, who lost 65-60 despite 32 points from point guard Darrell Brown.
The win pulled SIU into a four-way tie for fourth place with Bradley, Illinois State and Northern Iowa entering the week. With four games remaining in the regular season, the Salukis are two games out of first, but one loss out of eighth place, too.
"It's time for us to go, man. We can't sit back anymore," Fletcher said. "We've had enough of that. So now it's just time for us to keep pluggin' and playing like this every game. It's not hard to do if you just bring energy like we did here (Saturday)."