Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#795 UTSA -5.5 vs.
#796 Southern Illinois 148.5
Friday, November 8, 2019 at 7:30pm EST
Saluki Stadium, Carbondale
Written by Chris Altruda



#795 University of Texas at San Antonio
#796 Southern Illinois University


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UTSA vs. Southern Illinois

When and Where: Friday, Nov. 8, Silver Spurs Arena, Kissimmee, Fla., 7:30 p.m. EST.

After a rough season opener, Texas-San Antonio hopes for better things Friday night when its season-opening road swing continues with the first game of the Sunshine Slam in Florida versus Southern Illinois.

Perimeter woes sink Roadrunners in opener

The Roadrunners were not a standout perimeter-shooting team last season, connecting at a 34.4 percent clip, and the early returns for 2019-20 were not exactly promising. UTSA shot just 5 of 29 (17.2 percent) from beyond the arc, squandering a solid first-half performance in an 85-67 loss at Oklahoma on Tuesday night.

Jhivvan Jackson, the preseason Conference USA Player of the Year, had 24 points and a career-best 13 rebounds, but UTSA was overwhelmed by a 25-7 Sooners burst in the first 7:32 of the second half. Fellow guard Keaton Wallace contributed 17 points and nine rebounds, but the backcourt duo got little help -- the rest of the Roadrunners were a combined 10 for 33.

Jackson and Wallace were the top-scoring backcourt tandem in the country last season, averaging 43.1 points between them. Jackson is a volume shooter with a career mark of 40.3 percent, but he has made 182 3-pointers.

The Roadrunners will continue their tournament schedule Saturday against Oakland before wrapping up play Sunday versus Delaware.

Mullins gets first coaching win ahead of trip

Bryan Mullins, who is already in Southern Illinois' Hall of Fame as a four-year starter from 2005-09 and helped the Salukis to the 2007 NCAA Tournament regional semifinals, got his coaching career at his alma mater off to a positive start with a 76-48 rout of Illinois Wesleyan on Tuesday night.

Eric McGill had 19 points to pace five players in double figures for the Salukis, who shot 49 percent and limited their Division III opponents to 2 of 23 shooting from 3-point range. Aaron Cook chipped in 10 points, seven rebounds, and five assists as Mullins was able to get at least 16 minutes for eight players ahead of this demanding three-day tournament.

One player who did not play Tuesday night, Ronnie Suggs, sat out with a calf strain and is questionable for this game. Suggs is a graduate transfer from Missouri, where he averaged 1.7 points while appearing in 27 games last season.

Another transfer ex-Northwestern center Barrett Benson, had a career-high 15 points in the opener.

"They've put in the work over the years, and they've played behind some really good players at different schools," Mullins told the Southern Illinoisan regarding his transfers. "I think they have a chip on their shoulder. They're motivated. They want to leave a legacy here, and they've been the hardest-workers to go along with Eric (McGill) and Aaron (Cook)."

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The belief is the Roadrunners will put together a better second-half effort than they did against Oklahoma and pull out a win. Jackson and Wallace are one of the underappreciated better backcourts in the country and should provide plenty of firepower and problems for the Salukis.

Mullins has the luxury of an experienced backcourt of his own in Cook and McGill, but the step up in competition here may prove too much for a relatively inexperienced Salukis frontcourt.

Prediction: UTSA -3 (-110)

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It is difficult to make heads or tails of SIU's defense given the caliber of competition in its opener, but the expectation is Jackson and Wallace will at the very least get theirs for the Roadrunners. UTSA will look to quicken the tempo of this game, and the extra possessions should help the game barely clear the number.

Prediction: OVER 148.5 points (-110)

Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is based in Chicago. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiner, he worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Follow Chris daily right here at W&W and on Twitter at @AlTruda73. You won’t be disappointed.