A pair of struggling teams will meet at 7 p.m. Monday when Southern Illinois University Edwardsville plays Southern Illinois University Carbondale at SIU Arena.
SIUE (2-9), coming off an 82-64 loss at Chicago State on Dec. 16 when it allowed 50 points in the paint, is winless in five career meetings against SIUC (3-9).
The Cougars fell to the Salukis last season 71-55 at Vadalabene Center. In 2011, SIUE lost 80-57 in Carbondale.
Last year, seven players --six Cougars and one Saluki --were ejected in the second half. Tempers overflowed when SIUC's Antonio Bryer and SIUE's Jerome Jones became tangled after Jones had been battling Jeff Early for a rebound near the Cougars' bench. Bryer inadvertently elbowed Jones, who got Bryer in a headlock.
Other players also began scuffling, and it was 20 minutes before order was restored. A fan also was ejected during the melee.
No punches appeared to be thrown in the disagreement.
Bryer no longer is with the Salukis. Five of the six SIUE players ejected --Jones, Mark Yelovich, Zeke Schneider, Charles Joy of O'Fallon and Kyle Heck --also have moved on. Only senior Ray Lester remains with the team.
The SIUE-SIUC contest is the third in a four-year deal. The teams will meet again next season in the friendly confines of the Vadalabene Center at SIUE.
Senior guard Donivine Stewart averages 11.4 points and is the lone SIUE player scoring double figures. The 6-foot Stewart also is the only Cougar to start every game.
Stewart will be joined in the lineup by the 6-6 Leser (6.4 points), 6-3 senior Christian Salecich (6.9 points), 6-4 senior Tim Johnson (8.1 points) and 6-4 junior Rozell Bunn (8.2 points). Maurice Wiltz, a 6-2 junior, averages 8.8 points off the bench with 18 3-pointers.
Second-year SIUC coach Barry Hinson made headlines Tuesday after his club lost 73-65 at Murray State. Hinson called his players "mama's boys" and "uncoachable right now."
Hinson was especially tough on sophomore Marcus Fillyaw.
"Marcus was absolutely awful," said Hinson, the former coach at Missouri State. "That's about as PG-rated as I can say it. He was awful. Our guards were awful. Our three starting guards had one assist and seven turnovers. ... It's unbelievable how our starting guards played."
Hinson had much more to say.
"And let's talk about our big guys," he said, becoming more emotionally charged and digging a bigger hole. "Two-for-11. How can you go 2-for-11? My wife can score more than two buckets on 11 shots because I know my wife will at least shot-fake one time."
The Salukis won their next game despite Hinson's criticisms, outlasting Ball State 66-58 in Carbondale.
Senior guard Desmar Jackson's is SIUC's go-to player on offense. Jackson averages 20.9 points. Sophomore Anthony Beane averages 12.1 points and sophomore Jalen Pendleton chips in with 11.5 points.
Beane, a graduate of Normal High, leads the Salukis in 3-pointers with 14. Beane scored 21 points in the Class 4A Moline Sectional in 2011 as Normal ripped the East St. Louis Flyers 81-64.