Bonus Pick: Fletch from Sharp Plays

The Salukis look to act revenge on the Billikens today whom beat them soundly last year in Saint Louis 56-42. That loss for S. Illinois could be attributed to their 17 turnovers, or their lack of size compared to the towering Billikens…but if you ask me, what was the key was the Salukis inability to hit anything from the field. The Saint Louis defense stymied Southern Illinois, holding the Salukis to just 28 percent shooting (15-of-53), including 2-for-17 from 3-point range.

The Salukis however at 5-1, return every starter from last year and will no doubt be looking to get some payback from last years loss

to Saint Louis, witch turned out to be the biggest loss margin wise of any game last season. This is a team that limits its and your possessions by grinding out the shot clock and forcing the tempo to a screeching halt. Because this team is so fundamentally sound, they will win this type of game 75% of the time or more. SIU is led by a great backcourt with all three guards able to shoot and distribute the ball as well. SR Tony Young, IMO may be an All American this season. I have yet to see a better on ball defender then Young but it’s his shooting that makes him such a valuable consistent commodity. Young has hit at least 37% from three over his four years at S. Illinois as well as a career 81% free throw shooter. With all five starters from last year returning and 4 of 5 being seniors, the Salukis were the obvious preseason favorite for the ultra competitive and former “Mid Major” now turned legitimate - Missouri Valley Conference title.

 But…The Billikens return 4 of 5 starters from last years team that is entering this game 5-1 ass well with its only loss coming at Texas A&M. Last years beating of the Salukis was also the coming out party for senior - 6-10 270lb NBA prospect and true Center Ian Vouyoukas. Vouyoukas is the main cog in a Saint Louis defense that is holding teams to only 38% form the field, and in this game in particular, is too big for the Salukis to handle. With S.Illinois only starting two forwards (both being 6-7) its crucial they double down and sometimes triple down to get the ball out of Ians hands. Not only is Vouyoukas a great scorer and rebounder (he averages 10 per game) he is also a very gifted passer, as most of the European big men tend to be. When the help comes, it will be shooting guard Kevin Lisch shooting the ball form distance. Lisch is averaging 18 points per game this season, but it’s his 45% from three – what makes this team so deadly. Saint Louis is going to make you pay for doubling down on their big man, and its not only Lisch. Tommie Liddell (no relation to Chuck) is hitting 56% from beyond the arc, and his dribble drive penetration makes trying to step out on him so deadly. But this game all boils down to Ian Vouyoukas. If Vouyoukas can draw the double and his teammates can hit 40-45% of their open shots, they will not only cover this game but they will win it as well. Aslo equally important is the Billikens defense and Vouyoukas effect on it. The Big man is averinging three blocks per game and his teammate Liddell is averaging an impressive 1.7 per game. This ability to threaten the smaller Salukis with two active shot blockers will force them to never get open looks and hopefully rush some shots. With the possessions being limited and the rebound edge going to the Billikens, the defensive war must be dominated by Southern Illinois. I just can’t see that happening today. Lets take the nine here with confidence.

by: Marc Young - - Email Us

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