The Missouri State Bears had won their last two games against their arch rival Southern Illinois. In the opening round of Arch Madness at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, former MSU coach Barry Hinson and his Salukis took down the Bears 55-48.
Southern Illinois led by 11 in the second half, but Missouri State rallied to get to within 45-43 with 3:20 to play. The Salukis made clutch free throws down the stretch to hold off the Bears.
Austin Ruder led Missouri State with 17 points and MSU’s only senior, Christian Kirk, pulled down a game-high and career-high 11 rebounds to go with 8 points.
MSU finished 14-for-40 (.350) from the field, 4-of-13 (.308) from beyond the arc and 16-for-23 (.696) at the foul line. Southern Illinois was 20-for-53 (.377) overall, 3-of-11 (.273) from three-point range and 12-of-16 (.750) at the line.