Salukis About to Be MVC Road-Tested: Bradley and Illinois State Loom

Mike HendersonCorrespondent IIJanuary 1, 2010

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 18:  Head coach Chris Lowery of the Souther Illinois Salukis shouts from the bench during their game against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 18, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Travis Lindquist/Getty Images)
Travis Lindquist/Getty Images

After starting slowly in their MVC opener, Southern Illinois broke free of Indiana State with a three-point barrage midway through the second half to earn the win, 70-52.

Tony Freeman showed why he was Iowa's leading scorer two seasons ago as he keyed the run with his three-point shooting. Justin Bocot continues to develop consistency off of the bench, chipping in with fourteen points. In what could be construed as encouring, Kevin Dillard, Carlton Fay and Anthony Booker all had sub-par performaces offensively, yet the Salukis still had enough to bury the Sycamores.

Today's game against Bradley will hopefully be a different story for the aforementioned trio. Already owning a neutral court win over Illinois, the Braves are always tough at home and while the Salukis eked out two wins in Vegas last week, they have struggled with "true" roads games for the past two seasons.

Now would be a good time to shake that malaise. A trip to Illinois State is followed by a home date with Northern Iowa and the Salukis can ill-afford to lose all three - both from a confidence perspective and because the league will be very, very competitive all season long.

Look for an upset at either Bradley or State and a big home win over the Panthers. A 3-1 start could be the tonic to get Southern back into the mix for the MVC championship.