No. 14 Xavier tops So. Illinois 87-77 in Hawaii

Southern Illinois will leave Hawaii empty-handed.

The Salukis (3-8) dropped their third straight game Sunday, an
87-77 loss to No. 14 Xavier, and will depart from the Islands
without a win. The Musketeers (9-3), led by 21 points from Tu
Holloway, snapped their own three-game losing streak with the win
in the seventh-place game of the Diamond Head Classic.

SIU coach Chris Lowery pointed at Holloway as the
difference-maker in the game.

”Tu Holloway is an NBA guy,” Lowery said. ”That’s the
difference between their club and our club. Their thinker is an NBA
guy. He never wavered (or) got shook up and he ran the team.”

Dantiel Daniels shot 7 of 8 from the field and made all eight of
his free throws to lead the Salukis with a game-high 22 points. He
scored 13 of his 22 points in the second half.

Mamadou Seck had 12 points with 10 rebounds, Kendal Brown-Surles
hit three 3-pointers to finish with 12 points, and T.J. Lindsay
added 11 for the Salukis.

Holloway was feeling the Christmas spirit, so he sported green
and white shoes with red laces before a sparse, morning crowd on
Christmas Day.

The Musketeers won for the first time since Dec. 10, when they
beat Cincinnati in a game cut short in the closing seconds by
brawling and mayhem on the court.

”That was as good a game as we played offensively all year,”
Xavier coach Chris Mack said. ”On the defense end, we need to get
back to being a team that keeps teams to a low field-goal
percentage.”

It was the first three-game losing streak for Xavier under Mack
and first since the 2007-08 season.

Mark Lyons had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Musketeers
(9-3). Andre Walker and Travis Taylor added 13 apiece for Xavier,
which made 36 of 48 free throws. Walker also had 10 rebounds.

The Salukis (3-8), losers of three in a row, were led by Dantiel
Daniels with 22 points.

”We really needed this one,” Lyons said. ”We got the W.
That’s what matters.”

Southern Illinois drew to 68-64 at 8:45 after a 3-point play by
Daniels, but an 8-1 run gave the Musketeers a comfortable cushion.
Holloway’s two free throws with a minute to go gave the Musketeers
their largest lead, 83-69.

Holloway finished 14 of 15 from the line. He took just six shots
from the field, making three, including 1 of 2 3-pointers. He also
had seven assists.

”I try to do that every game,” Holloway said. ”Today my
teammates were finishing a lot. I’m the point guard of the team, so
that’s where it starts for us, passing the ball and sharing the
ball.”

The senior point guard, third-team AP All-American last season,
said he was waiting for the perfect occasion to unveil the festive
shoes.

”Since I’ve been in college this is the first time playing on
Christmas Day,” Holloway said. ”I had a pair of Nikes that match
the Christmas colors, green and white. I wanted to wear them on
Christmas Day and dedicate (the game) to everybody back home for
Christmas.”

Xavier scored 17 points off 11 SIU turnovers. SIU shot 40
percent and made just 5 of 20 from behind the arc. The Musketeers
led 42-36 at halftime.

This was the second meeting between the schools and first since
SIU beat Xavier in 1972. The Musketeers lost at home to Oral
Roberts a week ago before dropping their first two games in
Honolulu, against Long Beach State and Hawaii. The Salukis also
lost earlier in the week to Kansas State and Clemson.