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Tatum helps Southern Illinois clip Missouri State

Feb 14, 2007 - 7:34 AM SPRINGFIELD, Missouri (Ticker) -- Jamaal Tatum continued Southern Illinois' surge toward regaining its mastery of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Tatum scored seven of his 16 points in the final 1:18 as the No. 15 Salukis continued its recent road success with a 51-47 victory over Missouri State.

Randal Falker had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Southern Illinois (22-5, 13-3 MVC), which captured its third straight conference road win en route to staying a game ahead of Creighton in the league standings. The Blue Jays posted a 66-55 victory over Northern Iowa on Tuesday.

Prior to finishing third in the MVC last season, the Salukis had won four straight regular-season titles.

"We came in and stole one," Salukis coach Chris Lowery said. "That's what you have to do if you're going to have a chance to win a conference championship."

Despite ending up 5-of-18 from the field, Tatum gave his team the decisive lead in a back-and-forth affair, hitting a 3-pointer for a 45-43 edge with 1:18 remaining.

After the Bears' Blake Ahearn missed a shot of his own from the arc, Tatum was fouled with 21 seconds left and converted both free throws for a four-point advantage.

Spencer Laurie answered back with a layup for Missouri State four seconds later, but Wesley Clemmons made two free throws to rebuild the lead for Southern Illinois back to four at 49-45 with 14 seconds left.

Dale Lamberth closed the Bears within a possession again after rebounding teammate Tyler Chaney's missed jumper and scoring with five seconds left, but Tatum sealed the game with a pair from the stripe with 4.5 seconds to go.

Although they shot 28 percent (7-of-25) from the field in the second half, the Salukis converted 9-of-10 free throws, including six straight in the final minute.

"We made plays down the stretch from defensive stops to people hitting big shots, people hitting free throws," Tatum said. "We really executed down the stretch like a veteran team."

"They executed to perfection down the stretch," Missouri State coach Barry Hinson said. "That's what good teams do. That's why they're in the top 15."

Finishing just 33 percent (17-of-52) from the field, Southern Illinois made up for the poor shooting by feasting off the 18 turnovers by Missouri State, turning them into 15 points.

"You have to give (Southern Illinois) credit," Chaney said. "They definitely disrupt you at times."

The Bears managed just four points on the 12 giveaways by the Salukis.

Chaney scored 13 points and Lamberth 11 for Missouri State (19-8, 10-6), which had a five-game winning streak snapped.