TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- In a game that featured a ton of grit and determination from both teams, Indiana State delivered the final blow as Jake Odum hit a jumper in the paint with 19 seconds remaining as the Sycamores remained undefeated at home in MVC play with a 66-65 victory over Southern Illinois in front of 5,821 fans inside Hulman Center.
The Sycamores swept the two-game, week-long homestand to improve to 16-8, 9-4 MVC and will retain at least a share of second place in the MVC as the remaining four league this weekend are yet to be played. SIU, which was coming off its first victory over a nationally-ranked team since 2008 against Wichita State, fell to 9-15, 2-11 MVC.
RJ Mahurin led the team with 16 points, hitting a career high five 3-pointers, as well his sixth career four-point play. But it was the play of Odum, who finished with 13 points, five assists and four steals who hit the game winner with just under 19 seconds on the clock to give ISU its seventh consecutive victory inside Hulman Center.
Also key to the Sycamores success was the first half play of freshman Khristian Smith, who scored 12 points -- his highest single-game total in MVC play. Smith made 6-of-8 shots on the day with six rebounds and two assists. Smith scored all of points in opening stanza as ISU hung in it, trailing just 34-31 at the break.
Southern Illinois came out of the gate hot and never slowed down much as they owned a game-high 12 point lead at the 16:22 mark by the score of 15-3. The Salukis finished the game by hitting 22-of-45 from the field (48.9 percent) while ISU hit 46.8 percent on the day (22-of-47). SIU converted 10-of-20 attempts in the second half while Indiana State made 10-of-18 (55.6 percent).
Neither team enjoyed much success at the free throw line as they both hit 15 charity tosses while SIU attempted 26 and ISU went to the line 25 times. The Salukis enjoyed a 32-20 edge in rebounding and a 9-8 advantage in second chance points.
The Indiana State defense forced 14 Saluki turnovers and converted them into 17 points while ISU committed 12 and SIU was only able to score 10 off them.
Mahurin also tied a career-high with three blocked shots in the game.
Indiana State has now won four in a row over Southern Illinois at home and six of the last eight meetings and won for just the fourth time in 20 all-time games against Barry Hinson coached teams.
SIU led 15-3 at the 13:51 mark on a jumper by Desmar Jackson before Manny Arop hit a pair of free throws a minute later to trim the lead down to 10. After a triple by Colby Long at the 9:30 mark stretched the SIU lead out to 20-11, ISU rattled off seven of the next nine points to narrow the gap to two. Odum hit a lay-up with 6:14 left in the first half to make it 22-20.
Khristian Smith converted a tip-in at the 5:01 mark to knot the game at 24, but SIU's Anthony Beane, Jr., hit a 3-pointer to give the Salukis a brief 3-point lead before Mahurin answered with a trey of his own to tie it at 27. Smith also hit a lay-up with 2:45 to go which gave ISU a 29-27 advantage.
After Gant made a dunk with 1:11 left off the assist from Smith for a 31-29 advantage, SIU scored the final five points of the half, including a lay-up from Dantiel Daniels with four seconds on the clock as the Salukis led 34-31 at the break.
The Salukis made it a 9-0 run around the half, but score the first four points of the second half as they extended the lead out to 39-31 with 18:35 on the clock, before Gant answered with a lay-up to trim the advantage down to six points.
Jackson gave SIU a 43-33 lead at the 17:13 mark before Mahuring hit a trey to begin to knock back into the lead. After a pair of Jackson free throws made it 45-36 with 16:17 on the clock, Odum converted a conventional 3-point play and Kitchell followed with an inside jumper to make it 45-41 with 13:34 on the clock.
The Sycamore run eventually reached 10-0 on a trey by Mahurin with 10:45 left which knotted the game at 45 and Odum pushed ISU ahead 46-45 on the next trip down the floor. The Salukis ended a six and a half minute scoring draough on a Daniels free throws with 9:46 left to knot the contest at 46.
Daniels ran the SIU lead back out to 55-49 with 5:48 left before Mahurin converted the four-point play with 5:37 remaining for make it 55-53. Cummings hit a triple at the 4:32 mark after a pair of SIU free throws to get ISU withing 57-56.
Odum hit a jumper to knot the game at the 59 with just over three minutes remaining before Kendal Brown-Surles drained a 3-pointer on the next possession to surge the Salukis up 62-59.
Mahurin had the answer with a trey of his own at the 2:03 mark from the left corner to level the game at 62.
Odum's two free throws with 1:30 on the clock gave ISU a two-point advantage, until Jalen Pendleton converted a conventional 3-point play with 1:09 left to push SIU up 65-64. Mahurin missed a 3-pointer for the lead with 55 seconds left and Anthony Beane, Jr., was called for a charging foul with 36 seconds on the clock, which Mahurin took to set up a final possession.
With the clock just under 20 seconds, Odum got into the paint and took a shot familiar to Sycamore fans which rattled home to push ISU ahead 66-65. Pendleton tried a leaner from the right hand side just out of the paint at the buzzer which was long and ISU held on for the victory.
Southern Illinois put four scorers in double figures scoring, led by Pendleton who had 17 points. Jackson added 16 while Daniels posted 12 and Beane had 10 off the bench.
Indiana State returns to action on Tuesday, February 12 as the Sycamores travel to Missouri State. Tip-off is slated for 8:00 p.m. (ET) in a game to be broadcast by the MVC TV Network.