CARBONDALE — Kyler Filewich had to take a seat in the opening minute of last week's road loss at Missouri State because of foul trouble.
SIU's men's basketball team hopes to keep its freshman center around a bit longer Wednesday in the rematch with the Bears and forward Gaige Prim, the Missouri Valley Conference's top rebounder (8.6 boards a game) and third-leading scorer (15.3 points per game) entering the week. The Salukis (10-9, 4-9 MVC) fought the Bears (14-5, 10-5) to within three points at the half in their first meeting, only to get outscored by nine in the second in a 65-53 loss.
SIU played small part of the second half in that game, without the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Filewich. This time they may add 6-8 forward Anthony D'Avanzo, a pick-and-pop 3-point shooter that can finish inside, with Filewich to try to shake things up against MSU, which has won five straight games.
"Kyler's been playing great with us," SIU coach Bryan Mullins said. "Missouri State plays (6-8 forward Jared) Ridder at the 5. They're been playing a little bit more with that lineup, and, obviously, they've got (6-10 Nic) Tata, too, coming off the bench. We're gonna mix things up. I think Anthony gives us some versatility, to be able to have him at the 5 and at the 4. It's, really, we have to see which lineup works best."
Not much has worked against MSU, which can lock up a top-five seed at the MVC Tournament with a win. The Bears swept a short-handed Bradley squad (Elijah Childs, Ja'Shon Henry and Terry Nolan Jr. were all suspended) over the weekend for their fourth and fifth straight wins. Sophomore forward Isiaih Mosley continues to lead the Valley in scoring at 20.3 ppg., and MSU has allowed 62 or less points in its last four games.
"We really don't emphasize blocks. We do try to alter shots without fouling," Bears coach Dana Ford said. "I think we've done a decent job. I think we can get better. Gaige tries to protect the rim for us, and we've got some guards with some good size, but it's definitely something we try to emphasize. We don't want to give up uncontested layups, and if you go back and watch our game against Southern the first time we gave up some uncontested layups, and we were fortunate that they missed a couple of 'em."
SIU missed five layups in the second half last week at MSU, but got within seven twice in the final seven minutes. Prim and Mosley combined for six straight points to push the Bears' lead back to double digits with 2:36 to go, and they held on for the win.
The Salukis played without sophomore forward Marcus Domask, who has missed the last nine games with an injury to his left foot. Domask is out of the protective boot he had earlier this month, but Mullins said Tuesday he was unlikely to play against MSU. SIU is off for three days after Wednesday's game, then hosts Valparaiso on Sunday and Monday at the Banterra Center to complete a five-game homestand.
On Twitter: @THefferman