Southern Illinois Tops Virginia Tech, 63-48
Tatum, Missouri Valley Conference player of the year, scores 21 points in win
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March 18, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The team that no one wants to play is still playing - thanks to its suffocating defense.
Southern Illinois got three big 3-pointers from Jamaal Tatum and pulled away from Virginia Tech 63-48 Sunday in a West Regional second-round game.
Tatum, the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year, scored 21 points. The Salukis have won 15 of 16, and set a school record for victories in a season.
They advance to meet the Kansas-Kentucky winner in a regional semifinal on Thursday night in San Jose, Calif. Rest assured that neither team wants to face a team so dedicated to floor burns and gritty defense.
Tony Young added 17, Bryan Mullins 11 and Randall Falker 10 for Southern Illinois (29-6), which surpassed its victory total from the 2000-01 team that also made it to the round of 16.
Jamon Gordon had 16 points and Deron Washington added 15 for fifth-seeded Virginia Tech (22-12), which hadn't been held to fewer than 54 points all year. Zabian Dowdell, a first-team All-ACC choice who came in averaging 18 a game, had just seven.
Tatum had hit the decisive 3 to break a late tie when the teams met back in November at a tournament in Florida, a game the Salukis won 69-64. Virginia Tech piled up a season-high 19 turnovers in that game.
They did better holding onto the ball this time around, but never were able to solve the Salukis' pressure defense.