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Missouri Valley Notebook

January 23, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Missouri Valley Notebook

by Alan Rubenstein

SIU and Creighton lead as the Valley Rises

With Southern Illinois’ appearance in last year’s sweet 16 and Creighton making the Valley’s first national top ten appearance since 1986, the Valley is staking claim to that they are a conference that should be noticed more than just a mid-major. While obviously not as good as the power conferences like the ACC, Big Ten, Pac Ten or SEC, the Valley certainly deserves to be placed among the next level of conferences such as the Atlantic Ten, Mountain West and Conference USA, at least at the top.

Creighton and SIU played an entertaining game before a sellout crowd of 10,184 at Civic Auditorium. With the 85-76 victory, the Blue Jays emerged as the lone undefeated team in conference play and currently hold the nation’s number nine ranking. A game after setting a school record with nine three point field goals against Evansville, Creighton All-America candidate Kyle Korver stunned SIU with three triples in 56 second span in the second half. Korver’s marksmanship propelled the Jays from a 47-all tie into a 53-50 lead, helping Creighton erase what was at one point a 13 point first half deficit. The game also marked the fourth straight Saluki-Blue Jay match-up that the team with the halftime lead would eventually lose. Korver’s second range shot set the valley career record with 317, which is also the high mark among active players nationwide.

Korver’s performances against the Salukis and Evansville earned him Valley player of the week. Korver, who finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds against SIU, ended the week with 55 points, 14 rebounds and shot 57 percent from the floor, made 14-24 from beyond the arc and went 9-9 from the free throw line.

Jermaine Dearman capped a solid week for the Salukis with 18 points and 9 rebounds against Creighton. He also garnered 26 points and 7 boards in a 69-64 victory over Wichita State. The 6-foot-8 senior has been solid all season by averaging 14.1 points and 6.1 rebounds as SIU attempts to make back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time since going to three in a row from 1993-95. After the loss to Creighton, SIU stands 10-4 overall and 5-1 in the Valley.

When the Valley’s leading scorer, sophomore Danny Granger, announced he was transferring closer to his home in Louisiana and an 0-3 start in the Valley, the remainder of the season did not look too promising for Jim Les in his first season in charge at Bradley.

The Braves turned in a very solid week with victories over Northern Iowa and Drake at home. The wins snapped a three game home and overall losing streaks and an eight game valley skid.

Bradley’s junior backcourt tandem of Philip Gilbert and James Gillingham has stepped up their games offensively in the wake of Granger’s departure. Gillingham contributed 59 points in the two wins over UNI and Drake.

Junior forward Jason Faulkner was unable to play in the season’s first few games because of a stress fracture in his right foot. Faulkner played his first minutes of the season and had five and four rebounds. His presence proved more important than his statistics, as the Braves outscored the Panthers 36-16 during Faulkner’s 17 minutes.

Valley Quick Hits

Wichita State and Bradley will be televised on Fox Sports Saturday at 7pm. Southern Illinois’ victory over Wichita State on January 15th extended the Salukis home winning streak to 20. They will look to extend it to 21 against Indiana State on Saturday. Saluki Brad Korn has been scorching the nets over the last five games. The 6-foot-9 junior has made 11-16 from the field including 7-9 from three point range as the Salukis have gone 4-1 during the five games.

Drake’s Greg Danielson continues to be one of the more consistent players in the Valley. The senior forward has seven double-doubles. Leads the Valley in rebounding and is fourth in field goal percentage.

Southwest Missouri Sate has gone 5-1 since Kellen Easley and Tamarr Maclin were put in the starting lineup. Both players have improved significantly since being named starters. As starters, Easley has averaged 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds, while Maclin is giving 7.4 points and 7.6 rebounds. The Bears 5-1 Valley start is their best in the league since 1999.

Creighton, with the Valley’s first top ten ranking since the Jim Les and Hersey Hawkins led Bradley Braves were among the nation’s elite in 1986, will also try to become the first Valley team to post 30 victories in a season since the Braves finished the ’86 season 32-3. The Jays are also trying to become the first MVC team since the 1986 Bradley team to shoot above 51 percent from the floor.


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