S. Illinois Upsets No. 24 Saint Mary's

Wednesday, December 12th 2007, 7:48 am
By: News On 6

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) _ It had been three weeks since Southern Illinois fell out of the Top 25.

It had been 18 years since Saint Mary's was in the national rankings.

The old hands prevailed Tuesday night as Bryan Mullins scored 24 points to lead Southern Illinois to a 71-56 victory over the 24th-ranked Gaels.

The Salukis (4-3) held Saint Mary's to a season-low point total and finished with a 39-24 rebounding advantage in handing the Gaels (7-1) their first loss of the season in their first game as a ranked team since March 1989.

``We did some right things offensively and gave ourselves a chance to get back in the game,'' said Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett, whose team got within six points with 4 minutes left. ``We didn't defend well enough or rebound well enough.

``I just wished we would have played better,'' he said.

In the only other game involving a ranked team on Tuesday, No. 16 Oregon beat Sacramento State 93-66.

Southern Illinois ended the three-game losing streak that had knocked the Salukis from the Top 25.

Mullins scored 17 points in the second half, nine in the final 5 minutes.

``I've been telling him this is his team and tonight he took over,'' Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery said of Mullins.

Mullins said the Salukis had a better approach than in their recent losses.

``I think we came out with some energy that we've missed the last few weeks,'' he said. ``For the first time in a couple weeks, we had a lot of fun playing the game again.''

Freshman guard Patrick Mills, Saint Mary's leading scorer with a 16.1 average, was held to 11 points.

``Coming into the game, I knew it was going to be tough,'' Mills said. ``We knew that they were going to put pressure on me the full length of the court and it's something that I'll learn from. To be a good player you need to adjust to those things throughout the game and that's what I didn't do and I'll learn from it.''

The Salukis were 6-for-13 from 3-point range and forced 19 turnovers.

Randal Falker, Southern Illinois' leading scorer who was held scoreless in the Salukis' loss at Charlotte on Saturday, scored all eight of his points in the first half and had 12 rebounds.

No. 16 Oregon 93, Sacramento St. 66

Maarty Leunen had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Oregon, which played without four injured players including leading scorer Malik Hairston. Sophomore forward Joevan Catron added a career-high 20 points for the Ducks (8-1), and Tajuan Porter scored 17.

Loren Leath led the visiting Hornets (2-7) with 21 points and Donald Thomas added 11.