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Saluki Basketball 5@5: Smithpeters honored, Salukis relegated to ESPN3 and MVC tempo
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Saluki Basketball 5@5: Smithpeters honored, Salukis relegated to ESPN3 and MVC tempo

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Tyler Smithpeters honored, SIU's game with Drake relegated to ESPN3 and Indiana State's offensive adjustment, all in today's edition of the Saluki Basketball 5@5.

For the latest news and tidbits surrounding the SIU men's basketball team and the Missouri Valley Conference, 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 $5 a month. There is always more online!

No. 1 — Smithpeters honored by midmajormadness.com: Smithpeters, a Harrisburg native who is now an assistant coach for John A. Logan College with his brother, Kyle, was selected as SIU's most definitive player of the 2010s by midmajormadness.com. The website didn't post an exact explanation for how they picked the player for each mid-major team, only that he was a big part of the program. 

Smithpeters helped SIU to two 20-win seasons between 2014-18, and was the MVC Sixth Man of the Year his senior year in 2018. Smithpeters is 10th in school history in career 3-pointers, with 147 in 126 games. His .382 career 3-point percentage is 14th in Saluki history.

No. 2 — Salukis, Bulldogs Jan. 19 will air on ESPN3: SIU's home game against Drake that was up for the flex broadcast on Sunday, Jan. 19, lost out to Loyola's game at Illinois State. The Salukis and Bulldogs' game at the Banterra Center will now air on ESPN3, beginning at 3 p.m. (3:02 tipoff). Loyola's game at Illinois State will air on ESPNU at 3 p.m.

Drake, which was picked fifth in the preseason poll, has three players averaging double figures, led by 7-footer Liam Robbins (12.4 points per game). Robbins also averages 5.6 rebounds a game. Newcomer Roman Penn averages 11.9 points per game, and Anthony Murphy averages 10.1. D.J. Wilkins, a member of the league's All-Freshman Team last season, averages 9.4 points per game.

SIU has two more flex dates for ESPN, Sunday, Feb. 23 at Northern Iowa and the regular-season finale at Missouri State Feb. 29. The Northern Iowa game will air on either ESPNU or ESPN3.

No. 3 — Sycamores not just about Key and Barnes any more: With freshman forwards Tre Williams and Jake LaRavia, Indiana State is clearly not about just Tyreke Key and Jordan Barnes. Key, the leading scorer in the MVC last season, and Barnes combined for 29 of their 68 points against the Salukis Monday night. Williams and LaRavia combined for 26 points, and helped the Sycamores hand out 19 assists on 29 buckets.

"(SIU) defends like a lot of teams in our league. They're not gonna let Tyreke penetrate, and they're not gonna give Jordan and Cooper (Neese) something easy off of one or two passes," Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said. "If you don't score in transition, you have to have patience, offensively. I know you've heard me say that before, because people guard you. They're tough and they're prepared for ya, and, they're gonna fight you like crazy, ,and sometimes, in the last 10 seconds of the shot clock you're gonna have to take a tough shot. But when you share it like we have, and with the weapons that we have, you are going to get open shots." 

No. 4 — Salukis slower than most: It's not you, SIU really does move the ball a bit slower than everybody else in the MVC, and does make opponents work on defense.

KenPom.com says so. After 14 games, the Salukis' adjusted tempo, which estimates the amount of possessions they have a game, is 63.5 per game, 350th out of 353 Division I teams this season. SIU averages 20.1 seconds per offensive possession, 346th in the country, and 17.8 seconds on defense, 276th in the country. The Salukis must be doing something right, their scoring defense still leads the MVC (61.3 points per game), and they are fourth in the league in field goal percentage defense for all games.

No. 5 — Home cookin': The league season is always different (see No. 4), but Valley teams enjoyed some more home cookin' in the opening round of the conference slate Monday and Tuesday nights. Home teams went a combined 4-1, with Loyola's three-point win at Valparaiso the only road win.

During the non-conference season, MVC schools went a combined 55-6 at home (SIU went 5-1, with the only loss to San Francisco). That was the second-best record at home this century (90.2% winning percentage). Only the 2006-07 season, when SIU reached the NCAA Sweet 16 and set the school record for wins in a season (29), featured a better homecourt winning percentage in the non-conference portion of the season for Valley teams (.903). And it was close (.001). Does the MVC have two NCAA Tournament teams in it this season? Northern Iowa's NET fell more than 30 points after losing at Illinois State, to 66 Thursday, and Indiana State (92) probably does not have a shot at an at-large bid.

todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com

618-351-5087

On Twitter: @THefferman

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