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Team Profile: 2007 BracketBuster Recap: Southern Illinois 68, Butler 64

by Andrew Force | February 17th, 2007

For the first time since 1998, Butler welcomed a ranked opponent into historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. The building is emblematic of Indiana basketball, after playing host to the Hoosiers state championship.

Two ailing guards walked into the ring, and only one finished the game. Jamaal Tatum of Southern Illinois University has been nursing a deep thigh bruise for over a week. Butler guard A.J. Graves entered this top-flight contest under the weather.

The contributions of Tatum and Graves can be summarized by one possession that occurred late in the first half. With just seconds left in the opening stanza, Tatum gave Graves a stutter-dribble before busting a three in his face. On that play and throughout the game, Graves was simply a step slow. His shooting (1-9) was off, and his fouls piled up as his slower-than-normal lateral mobility consistently put him in bad situations.

Randal Falker owned the defensive boards early, donating seven first half bounds. Foul trouble limited his production severely in the second half. The best second-half big man was none other than Pete Campbell. Who?

Pete Campbell, Butler forward, hit five triples for the fourth time this season. Four bombs landed in the second half. Unfortunately Campbell did not share his soup recipe with his teammates. Long-range shots not originating from his release found the target just 29% of the time.

So many times Saturday afternoon SIU forward Matt Shaw left Campbell to double the ball, and Campbell took full advantage, nearly singlehandedly drawing his troops back into the game.

The critical stretch for a beleaguered Butler unit occurred with just over nine minutes to play. Campbell hit two triples off well-designed and well-executed inbounds plays. Following Graves’ lone field goal, Campbell hit two more bombs. In the interim, Randal Falker picked up his fourth foul and left the game. Through the tussle, the Salukis held onto the lead like a dog holds a chew toy.

The margin narrowed to two points at 49-47. While the first half saw repeated lead changes, not once did SIU relinquish their second half command.

The Salukis can credit their own 3-pt shooting for earning them the lead. At one point, SIU knocked down 6-of-10 from beyond the arc.

Tatum continued his lead by example, as he has done throughout the season, pouring in 20, eight points coming from the charity stripe. His poise helped SIU hold on to the small lead late. As a team, the Salukis buried 77% of the free throws taken with under four minutes left.

With leading scorer Graves fighting both sickness and SIU’s stifling defense, Butler came up short, 68-64.

After losing at Wright State last Saturday, Butler has now lost two straight Div-I games and fallen out of first place in the Horizon Conference. Southern Illinois defeated its own conference co-leader, Creighton, last week in a hard fought win. SIU fights the hard fight every time out it seems.

This hard win enhances an already respectable résumé for SIU and leaves Butler desperate to maintain the incredible early season momentum to the finish line.

–Andrew Force

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