SIU Escapes Chicago with a 74-71 Win Against UIC
From the opening tip off, the SIU Salukis (15-8, 7-5) were forced to play catchup for majority of the game against the UIC Flames (8-15, 1-11). Their final lead came in the last 20 seconds after a series of free throws by AJ Ferguson. When it mattered the most, the Salukis executed their defense well and prevented the Flames from scoring. Xavier Johnson scored two more free throws to help SIU escape Chicago with the win 74-71.
"Proud of the guys," head coach Brian Mullins said in a post-game press conference, "a lot of resiliency a lot of toughness shown, tough environment. Kind of a different game with all of the fouls and turnovers and things like that, and just to be able to fight back and find a way to win those last three minutes, it shows a lot of poise and a lot of maturity from our group."
Turnovers and fouls affected both teams heavily. SIU and UIC both had 18 turnovers and a combined 55 fouls. This is the third game in a row with more than 15 turnovers for SIU (18 vs. Murray State, 16 vs. Missouri State).
SIU ended the first half down by 4, then proceeded to lead by 8 early in the second half before UIC took over. Johnson led the Salukis in scoring with 29 points, 21 of those in the second half. Isaiah Rivera led the Flames in scoring with 28 points, 19 of those in the first half.
This win puts SIU at fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Salukis fought their way to the win today, but they'll have a tougher fight as they prepare for their next game on the road against the Drake Bulldogs (18-4, 9-2). The game is February 7, at 7:00 p.m. at The Knapp Center.