Salukis Snap Losing Streak at Drake

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By WSIL Sports

DES MOINES, IA. -- The SIU men's basketball team snapped a 15-game conference road losing streak beating Drake 66-63 Saturday night.

It was the first time the Dawgs have beaten the Bulldogs since 2009. More importantly, it was the Salukis' fifth win in their last six games.

"It was just a great win," Saluki senior Jeff Early said. "I'm just so excited that this happened. This is exactly what we needed to go into the tournament. Being hot like this, we have so much confidence."

Early led all scorers with 26 points, 16 of those points in the second half.

"I was so amped all game," he said. "You know I was focused from the beginning. My fellas asked me, 'Hey what's wrong with you,' and I was like man I'm just focused."

It's been the Jeff Early show the last couple of weeks. The Virginia native is averaging more than 20 points per game in his last five outings.

"I don't mind telling you every play we called down the stretch involved Jeff Early," Saluki head coach Barry Hinson said. "He just kept telling me, 'Coach, get me the ball.' The one thing that nobody knows tonight is how well he played defensively."

Early had three of Southern's ten steals in the game. The Dawgs scored 18 points off Drake's 16 turnovers. The Bulldogs took their biggest lead of the game with 12 minutes left to play. Trailing by eight, Early started a 9-0 that got the Salukis back in the game.

"From that point on, 50-42, we were phenomenal," Hinson said. "Every trip down the floor we guarded our tail off and offensively we executed to perfection."

With less than a minute to go and Southern leading by two, it was only fitting Jeff Early's jumper ultimately sealed Drake's fate.

With the win, SIU improves to 14-16 overall, 6-12 in the MVC. After starting the conference season 1-10, the Salukis have rebounded in a big way going 5-2 in the conference. They will enter the Valley tournament the hottest team in the league.
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