Southern Illinois Salukis: Good Enough To Lose

Mike HendersonCorrespondent IIFebruary 7, 2010

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 19:  Head coach Ben Jacobson of the Northern Iowa Panthers points while taking on the Purdue Boilermakers during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Rose Garden on March 19, 2009 in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

It's going from sublime to ridiculous.

First, it was a five-point loss to Drake Then, it was two-point losses to Creighton and Bradley, followed by a three-point loss to Indiana State and a one-point setback to Wichita State.

Finally, yesterday, the Salukis squandered a late lead against Northern Iowa, falling 55-52 to the conference-leading Panthers.

The Panthers are certainly the class of the league and probably weren't at their best yesterday but a lot of that had to do with the Saluki defence. They matched Northern's toughness but once again at crunch time their lack of offensive creativity and execution failed them.

Kevin Dillard continued his enigmatic play, being held scoreless while committing 5 turnovers. Anthony Booker was also shut out and again ran into foul trouble being getting his fifth late in the game.

On the bright side, Gene Teague continues to develop and outplayed NI big man Jordan Eglseder, who was limited to 4 points in just 18 minutes. Tony Freeman came up big again with 16 points, but was held to 2 in the last sixteen minutes and nobody was there to step up.

The theme is getting all to familiar and the Salukis are running out of time to try and avoid the first-round game in the MVC tournament. The schedule doesn't get any easier either. Three of their last five games are on the road, including two against teams (Wichita State and Drake) who beat Southern in Carbondale.

A bracketbuster home game against Western Michigan is sandwiched in but is really inconsequential except for perhaps building some momentum heading into the final two games of the season. And the Salukis need any and all momentum they can gather.