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SIU uses defense and rebounding to down San Jose State

  • SIU forward Kavion Pippen shoots a short jump shot Saturday against San Jose State.

    SIU forward Kavion Pippen shoots a short jump shot Saturday against San Jose State.
    Courtesy of Saluki Media Service

By Chris Barron
Contributing writer
Posted on 12/6/2017, 1:00 AM

The SIU men's basketball team scored 76 points to beat San Jose State 76-58 at SIU Arena Saturday afternoon.

But it wasn't his team's offense that was on coach Barry Hinson's mind in his postgame news conference.

"I kept telling my guys to lose themselves in playing defense and their offense will take care of itself," Hinson said. "Our offense came in waves and it was because our defense did too. We really can be explosive when we do that."

SIU outscored the Spartans 14-0 in fast-break points, a lot of which came off the 20 turnovers incurred by SJSU. SIU had 10 steals, led by Eric McGill who had five thefts.

Saluki forward Kavion Pippen had a four steals himself along with a game leading 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Pippen also was the Salukis' rim protector with three blocks.

The second factor in the win, strangely enough, was rebounding. SIU outrebounded the much taller Spartans 30-28. That plus-two differential for SIU may not seem spectacular, but Saturday's game was the first in seven contests that San Jose had been outrebounded by any team -- even in their six losses.

Oddly enough, it wasn't the usual suspects -- Pippen and power forward Jonathan Wiley -- who led the way on the boards. Both had been averaging near eight caroms per game. But Wiley had only three against the Spartans and the Pippen only had one rebound for the afternoon.

SIU's guards accounted for 18 of the Dawgs' 30 boards. Hinson noted that was just what he expected from his perimeter players.

"A good rebounding team cannot be so just using their baseline players," Hinson said. "Your guards have to be part of the rebounding crew too."

SIU wing guard Armon Fletcher led the way with six rebounds. Hinson has made a point recently to coach Fletcher on his defense and rebounding. However, the guard was still able to chip in 16 points Saturday.

The star on the offensive end was Pippen. He dominated on offense, defense and even got involved in the passing game.

"Pippen's a sponge," Hinson said. "He's getting better and better each day. He has a chance to become a special player for SIU."

He and Wiley combined for 14-of-17 shooting from the floor in the first half. That shooting somewhat counteracted the poor (1-11) three-point shooting by SIU's guards. Those guards picked it up with three-of-seven shooting from three in the second 20 minutes of play.

Hinson could stomach poor shooting from the perimeter as long as his guards followed the game plan of giving Pippen touches each time down the floor

"I think I have to give a lot of credit to our guards," Hinson said. "They really got the rock to those two guys."

SIU had 15 assists that led to over half their 78 total points.

Wednesday, the Salukis have another stern road game test. They play St. Louis University at Chevez Arena in St. Louis at 7 p.m. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest.