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Saluki Basketball 5@5: McGill scores 13 in loss, Banterra Center stretch and Evansville's plight
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Saluki Basketball 5@5: McGill scores 13 in loss, Banterra Center stretch and Evansville's plight

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Saluki Basketball 5@5: McGill scores 13 in loss, Banterra Center stretch and Evansville's plight

Eric McGill fights Valparaiso's defense for 34 minutes, get ready for home stretch, and Evansville's plight, all in today's Saluki Basketball 5@5.

For the latest news and tidbits surrounding the SIU men's basketball team and the MVC, tune in to the Saluki Basketball 5@5 every day Monday through Friday at 5 p.m. To subscribe to The Southern Illinoisan and get the best Salukis coverage around, go to thesouthern.com or call 618-529-5454. Digital-only subscriptions start at just $9.99 a month ($5 a month for students or teachers). There is always more online!

No. 1 — McGill carries the load: SIU's senior guard tried to carry the load for his team Wednesday at Valparaiso, but even he struggled to find the bottom of the net at the Athletics-Recreation Center. McGill made 5 of 14 from the field, including 3 of 8 from the 3-point line, and scored more than a third of the Salukis' 38 points (13).

"I felt like I was forcing a lot of shots," McGill said. "We didn't have anyone get going, or have anybody get going, defensively. I just felt like I had to force a lot, and it made it hard."

McGill was the only Saluki in double figures in its lowest-scoring game of the season. SIU barely avoided tying the school record for the fewest points in a game since 1950 (36). The Salukis scored 16 points in the first half, a season-low, and finished the 55-38 loss 13 of 55 from the field (23.6%).

Valparaiso (13-13, 6-7 MVC) ended SIU's seven-game winning streak with its best defense since the early 1980s.

"They played extremely well. They outplayed us," SIU coach Bryan Mullins said. "They did a great job guarding us all night, and we gotta play better if we want to have success in this league."

SIU (15-11, 9-4) fell into a tie for second place in the Valley with the loss.

No. 2 — Home, sweet home: The Salukis, who have won 10 in a row at the Banterra Center, host Bradley Saturday afternoon in the first of three home games in their next four games. SIU hosts last-place Evansville Feb. 20, go to Northern Iowa Feb. 23 in a game that will air on either ESPNU or ESPN3, and host Indiana State Feb. 26. The Salukis close the regular season at Missouri State Feb. 29.

SIU's 10-game homecourt winning streak is its longest since winning 15 straight between 2005-08.

No. 3 — Three more to history for Evansville: It's not the kind of history Evansville envisioned when it went 9-4 during the non-conference season, beating top-ranked Kentucky on the road in early November. The Purple Aces (9-17, 0-13) dropped their 13th straight game Wednesday night at home to Loyola, matching last season's 13 conference losses. Evansville has never lost more than 15 MVC games in one season, going 3-15 in 2009-10.

The Aces close the regular season at Drake Sunday, at SIU Feb. 20, at home against Indiana State, at league leader Northern Iowa and at home against Illinois State. The Redbirds beat the Aces by 11 Jan. 29 and sit in ninth place in the league entering the weekend.

No team in the Valley has gone 0-18 since Drake did it in back-to-back seasons in the late 1990s, 1996-97 and 1997-98. The Bulldogs went 3-24 overall in 1997-98 and 2-26 in 1996-97.

No. 4 — Nothing but NET: Eight Valley teams came in the top 160 of the NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) rankings on Monday. Last season, only three teams finished the season in the top 160.

Loyola led the MVC with a NET of 131. As of Monday, Northern Iowa (37 NET), Indiana State (92), Loyola (100) and Bradley (108) were above that. Drake came in at No. 139, and SIU was No. 146.

No. 5 — Mid-major rankings: Northern Iowa came in second in the latest Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major top-25 poll Monday. The Panthers (22-3, 11-2) were the only team from the Valley in the top 25. SIU received 22 votes, good enough for 32nd place. Loyola, Indiana State and Bradley also received votes.

todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com

618-351-5087

On Twitter: @THefferman

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