SIU men’s basketball team prepares to host Oklahoma State – The Southern

It’s just one of 31 regular season games and it’s not even a Missouri Valley Conference game.

But for SIU fans and players, there’s no doubt the game they’re most looking forward to is Oklahoma State’s visit to Banterra Center on Dec. 5. It’s the first time since the 2008 NIT, when the Cowboys were sent to Carbondale, that a Power 5 opponent has played at the Bank.

SIU guard Trent Brown (24) drives on Tennessee State guard Marcus Fitzgerald (1) during the first half at the Banterra Center on Nov. 17, 2022, in Carbondale.

Byron Hetzler

Speaking at the Salukis’ Media Day on Thursday, senior guards Trent Brown and Xavier Johnson both expressed their eagerness to see a good Big 12 team make the trip to SIU.

“Extremely excited,” Brown said. “I know they’ve played in a lot of atmospheres but I think there’s nothing quite like the Dawg Pound. I think it’s going to be special for them to open their eyes and see what type of place this is.


SIU guard Xavier Johnson shoots during a workout at the Banterra Center on June 15 in Carbondale. Johnson is the top returning scorer for the Salukis after Marcus Domask and Lance Jones elected to transfer.

Byron Hetzler

“We were able to get them last year but that was last year. We’ve got to be ready and have the same energy for them again.”

People are also reading…

The Salukis pulled off a 61-60 win last year in Stillwater when Marcus Domask took Lance Jones’ pass in the left corner and buried a 3-pointer in the final minute, capping a comeback from a double-figure deficit in the second half.

That was arguably the best win of a 23-10 season that ended in the MVC tournament semifinals with a loss to eventual tourney champion Drake. No postseason tournament selected SIU, extending its postseason drought to 15 years.


SIU guard Xavier Johnson works on his ball handling during a workout at the Banterra Center on June 15 in Carbondale.

Byron Hetzler

Johnson, a third team preseason All-MVC pick, characterized Oklahoma State as a “good matchup” for the Salukis.

“I think they’ll be able to see that this is a special arena, too,” he said. “We got them last year at their arena so we’ll have to be ready to go this year.”

The Cowboys’ visit is one of a school-record 18 regular season home games for SIU. It’s the one part of a two-for-one agreement the schools inked before last year, meaning the Salukis will play again at Oklahoma State during the 2024-25 season.

SIU coach Bryan Mullins is appreciative of Cowboys coach Mike Boynton for holding up his end of the deal and taking his team here.


Saluki basketball players Trent Brown (left) and J.D. Muila ride on the Dawg Pound cart during the SIU Homecoming Parade on Oct. 15, 2022, in Carbondale.

Byron Hetzler

“A lot of luck and the end of September-type schedule,” Mullins said when asked how it came together. “Coach Boynton is first-class and they had struggled too because of where they’re located. For us, it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”


Mullins said Thursday that the team has been working through various injuries that have left them at least a player short for most of the preseason.

Key players like Johnson, forward Troy D’Amico (ankle) and forward Clarence Rupert have each missed time. Center Cade Hornecker (ankle) and freshman guard Sheridan Sharp (foot) are each going to miss the start of the season. Sharp’s injury, a fracture, will likely shelve him for six-to-eight weeks.


SIU’s Trent Brown (from left), Ben Coupet and Steven Verplancken Jr. walk off the floor after losing to Drake 65-52 in the quarterfinal of the MVC Tournament at the Enterprise Center on March 4 last season in St. Louis.

Byron Hetzler

“We’ve had some injuries that we’ve battled through,” Mullins said. “Cade’s injury, we’re looking for a second opinion so we can figure out the next course of action. He’s probably not going to be back for a while.”

Mullins did have good news on Johnson, D’Amico and Rupert, saying each would likely be able to play the season opener on Nov. 6 against Division II Kentucky State at Banterra Center. Mullins also said that it’s not known yet if Sharp will redshirt because his timetable wouldn’t have him returning until mid-to-late December.


For the second straight year, Mullins has opted to play two “secret” scrimmages that are closed to everyone but the teams involved and don’t have to be publicized per NCAA rules. The team’s first scrimmage came last weekend against Loyola, where Mullins served as an assistant under Porter Moser when the Ramblers reached the 2018 Final Four. … If you’re wondering about an initial starting five, you’ll keep wondering for a while. Mullins hasn’t decided on that yet, either, saying it will take time to figure out the team’s opening lineup and player rotations. But it seems certain that Johnson, D’Amico, Rupert and probably Brown will be four of the five starters. … Starting times have been set for most Saluki home games, including the Dec. 30 MVC game with UIC that’s part of a women’s-men’s doubleheader. The women will entertain Drake at 1 p.m. and the men will tip off at 6 p.m.


SIU guard Xavier Johnson (10) looks to go to the basket while pressured by Drake guard Garrett Sturtz (3) during the first half of the MVC Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinal at the Enterprise Center on March 4 in St. Louis. The Salukis lost 65-52.

Byron Hetzler

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top