Southern Illinois sophomore Justin Bocot scored 28 points, including 18 in the second half, to lead the visiting Salukis to a 72-64 come-from-behind win at Missouri State on Saturday afternoon in a nationally-televised Missouri Valley Conference game.
After Missouri State took its biggest lead of the contest on a three-pointer by Kyle Weems at the 18:27 mark of the second half, 34-30, SIU reeled off the game’s next nine points and never trailed again to improve to 11-13 overall and 6-7 in the MVC.
The Bears fought back within one at 44-43 on a three-pointer by Chris Cooks just under eight minutes into the second period, but Bocot single-handedly helped the Salukis pull away with the next eight SIU points, including two of his six three-pointers.
Missouri State got back-to-back buckets by Cooks and Weems in a 45-second stretch at the six-minute mark to pull within 58-51, but the Saluki long-range attack answered again moments later on a three-pointer by Ryan Hare.
SIU was 9-for-15 from beyond the arc (.600), while connecting on 19-of-21 (.905) free throws in the game.
Despite owning a 40-32 rebounding advantage and posting their third-best rebounding total of the season (40 total and 19 on the offensive end) the Bears could not find their offensive swagger. MSU shot just 37.7 percent for the game on 23-of-61, but more critically missed 11 free throws to finish with a 54.2 percent effort on 13-of-24 charity shots. After going 0-for-9 from beyond the arc in the first half, Missouri State made 5-of-10 threes in the second half.
The announced crowd of 8,003 was the second-best this season for Missouri State and put the Bears over 100,000 in home attendance for the 17th time.
The Bears travel to Wichita State on Tuesday night (7:05 p.m.) for the final regular season meeting between the Bears and Shockers (11-12, 5-7). MSU defeated Wichita State in Springfield by a 68-55 count on January 14.
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