In today's Saluki Basketball 5@5, the momentum of SIU's recent series with Indiana State, the youth movement in Carbondale, and your Throwback Thursday with former forward Joe C. Meriweather.
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No. 1 — Tune in Saturday: Tune in Saturday, Saluki fans, because you might not need to watch Sunday's game at the Hulman Center on ESPN3 if recent history is anything. SIU (7-3, 1-3 MVC) is 8-2 in its last 10 games against the Sycamores (3-6, 0-4), but got swept last season. What's funny is one team has swept the series the last six years, with the Salukis winning home-and-away in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Of course, this season, both games will take place at one site, and this year, on back-to-back days.
SIU leads the all-time series 88-49.
The Sycamores are still looking for their first MVC win of the season, and coach Greg Lansing's 170th career victory, after losing two games at home to undefeated Drake and falling twice at Missouri State. SIU has dropped three straight since beginning conference play with a win over Evansville.
No. 2 — Youth movement: SIU starts four sophomores, so it's not surprising that 90% of its scoring comes from players in that class. What is surprising is that the Salukis are one of the youngest teams in the country despite having two graduate transfers. They have less than a year of Division I experience per player, according to KenPom.com.
In fact, of the 11 youngest teams in the country, SIU has the second-most wins (seven). Only Louisville, which is the ninth-youngest team in the country in terms of Division I experience, has more victories of the bottom 11, with eight.
No. 3 — Throwback Thursday: Forty-eight years ago this Sunday, former 6-foot-10 center Joe C. Meriweather grabbed 23 rebounds in a 71-69 home loss to Mercer. They were the second-most rebounds by a Saluki in one game in school history, behind Meriweather's 27-board game on Feb. 18, 1974, at Indiana State. SIU won that game 83-74.
We'll never know how many of his boards came at the offensive end, as offensive rebounds weren't kept as an NCAA stat until the 1987-88 season. Meriweather (1973-75) is SIU's third-leading rebounder all-time, with 1,005 boards, and the program's ninth-leading scorer with 1,536 points. He played 10 years in the NBA, for five different teams, between 1975-85. Meriweather scored 5,439 points and grabbed 3,764 rebounds, 1,285 at the offensive end.
No. 4 — Triple threat: SIU guard Trent Brown is shooting 51.6% from the 3-point line this season, 20th-best in the country. Despite the Salukis' struggles at Drake last season, they're still 13th in the country behind the arc (40.2%). SIU has made 10 or more 3-pointers in a game three times this season.
No. 5 — Weekend schedule: The first full MVC weekend of the season begins Saturday afternoon, with the Salukis and Sycamores playing at the renovated Hulman Center beginning at noon. That game is scheduled to air on ESPN3. Missouri State (6-1, 3-1) plays at Valparaiso (3-5) at 1 p.m., in the Crusaders' Valley premiere this season, and Illinois State (3-5, 0-2) takes on Evansville (5-5, 3-1) at 1 p.m. in Indiana.
Rest up for Sunday. Here's the five-game schedule:
SIU at Indiana State, noon (ESPN3)
Missouri State at Valparaiso, 1 p.m. (ESPN+)
Illinois State at Evansville, 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
Bradley at Northern Iowa, 3 p.m. (ESPN+)
Loyola at Drake, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
On Twitter: @THefferman