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Team Profile: 2008 BracketBuster Recap: Southern Illinois 74, Nevada 49

by Andrew Force | February 24th, 2008

An ordinarily mild-mannered Tyrone Green beaming with delight told the story for Southern Illinois’ homecourt 74-49 win over Nevada.

The Kentucky-born guard had reason to smile, aside from his team’s nearly flawless performance. Guarding Marcelus Kemp, who attracted four NBA scouts to Carbondale, Green put on a defensive show.

He got up in Kemp’s personal space, closer than most would dare. Green has an impressive first step and respectable strength, both of which he used to force Kemp into nine misses.

“We were physical with [Kemp],” said SIU Head Coach Chris Lowery. “We never let him get to his comfort zones where he liked to score.”

Nevada players in general shuffled through a rainbow of emotions. Bubbly and carefree at the outset, the Wolf Pack quickly became mildly annoyed. Kemp specifically ended the first half downright angry, down 37-22 to SIU.

Beginning the second stanza Kemp showed determination and an eagerness to impose his will on the game. Upon picking up his third foul JaVale McGee scowled, lashing out at the faultless air with his arm.  When Kemp’s gung ho plan failed, the team reached deflated, the darkest emotion of the day.

Turnovers plagued Nevada throughout the game, 21 in all. The Wolf Pack guards committed 14 of that gaudy total. SIU had only six turnovers in the game.

A proud athletic team, Nevada looked like an elegant show horse that had been dragged through mud by the end of the game: plenty of talent, but foiled by the conditions.

SIU’s defense infused the muck into the game.

The physicalness of their defense,” noted Nevada Head Coach Mark Fox, “(We) almost needed a football helmet today.”

With most of the credit going to the spirited defense played by Southern Illinois, Nevada failed to score 60 points for just the second time all year. Coincidentally, the other occasion was at Northern Iowa, also a Missouri Valley Conference team.

“I think our defense was excellent,” said Green, easily the most active player of the day.

Even on offense Green asserted himself like rarely before. Darting to the basket or hunting an offensive rebound, the activity the former JuCo transfer showed was remarkable.

He managed 11 points, three rebounds, four assists and a block. The senior also finished with two of SIU’s season-high 14 steals.

In defeating a respected Nevada team, SIU held onto the hope of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. The Salukis have a six-year NCAA appearance streak on the line. Only 11 teams in the nation can boast the same.

Losses to regional powerhouses Indiana and Butler coupled with an utter failure to sweep moderate MVC opponents places SIU on the outside looking in. The dozen losses to-date are only offset by the typically high Saluki RPI and SOS.

With just one top 100 win, and ten total losses Nevada has no chance to make the Big Dance without winning the WAC Tournament (which they could very well do). Unfortunately the Wolf Pack will not host the conference tournament until 2009 and 2010. The modest four NCAA appearance streak appears in serious jeopardy in Reno.

Neither team was in the field before this game and neither team is assuredly in after. Obviously the 74-49 trouncing helped Southern Illinois remain in the discussion, while Nevada confirmed they don’t belong on the merits of their regular season.

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