Tatum, Southern Illinois suffocate the HokiesMar 19, 2007 - 1:11 AM COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Jamaal Tatum and a suffocating defense enabled Southern Illinois to set a school record for wins in a season. The Salukis now get a chance to add to that total in the "Sweet 16."
Tatum scored 21 points, including six 3-pointers, to lead fourth-seeded Southern Illinois to a 63-48 victory over fifth-seeded Virginia Tech in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's West Region.
The Salukis (29-6) will play top-seeded Kansas in the regional semifinals at San Jose on Thursday.
Southern Illinois previously reached the regional semifinals in 1977 and 2002.
"I knew we had the personnel to advance this far," Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery said. "I'm not saying that I knew we were going to beat them (Virginia Tech), but I wasn't nervous."
The Salukis, who last reached the Sweet 16 in 2002, rank fourth in the nation in defense (56.5 ppg) and throttled the Hokies (22-12), who shot 41 percent from the field. Their leading scorer Zabian Dowdell was barely a factor. After averaging 18.3 points this season, Dowdell finished with just seven on 3-of-9 shooting from the field.
"They have guys that do a good job of contesting shots and staying in front of the ball," Dowdell said.
Jamon Gordon scored 16 points and Deron Washington added 15 for Virginia Tech. The rest of the Hokies shot just 24 percent (6-of-25). Virginia Tech, one of seven Atlantic Coast Conference teams in the NCAA Tournament, had not scored fewer than 54 points in a game this season.
"We couldn't get anything offensively," Washington said. "Their defense slowed us down. We couldn't get any of our shots to fall and that obviously hurt us."
Southern Illinois made 12-of-21 shots from 3-point range while the Hokies converted just 2-of-13 shots from the arc.
"Today they doubled down a lot on Randall (Falker) and Tony Boyle and we stepped up and knocked down shots from the outside," Tatum said. "Coach told us to keep shooting shots from far and we did that."
The Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, Tatum made 6-of-9 shots from the arc and Tony Young added 17 points, including four 3-pointers, for the Salukis.
Tatum scored nine of his points in a 15-5 run which helped Southern Illinois build a 28-20 halftime lead.
The Salukis increased the lead to as many as 17 points in the final minute.
"That's a very good basketball team, extremely well-coached, tough and aggressive," Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. "They played great defense in transition and we just missed a lot of shots."
Falker finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
"I kind of expected the double teams," Falker said. "They did that to me when we played them earlier in the year."
Southern Illinois defeated the Hokies, 69-64, in January.
- WEST REGIONAL
AT COLUMBUS OH
NCAA BB WEST REGIONAL
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
VIRGINIA TECH 20 28 48
SOUTHN ILLINOIS 28 35 63 FINAL
Mar 18 5:13 PM
- WEST REGIONAL
AT COLUMBUS OH
NCAA BB (5) VIRGINIA TECH 20
(4) SOUTHN ILLINOIS 28 HALFTIME
Mar 18 3:57 PM
- Virginia Tech grants sophomore guard Jalen Hudson release Apr 6
- No. 2 North Carolina's game at Virginia Tech moved to 3 p.m. Jan 23
- Virginia Tech Hokies deeper in Buzz Williams 2nd season Oct 26
- Virginia Tech Preview Capsule Oct 26
- Hokies leading scorer Smith to transfer Mar 26
- Wichita State tops SIU in MVC QFs Mar 6
- Salukis seek upset of Shockers in MVC Tournament Mar 6
- Brogdon, Virginia top Va Tech Feb 28
- Hokies and Cavaliers meet in Old Dominion State showdown Feb 28
- Duke survives Virginia Tech in OT Feb 26
- No. 4 Duke take on Virginia Tech in ACC tilt Feb 25
- Wichita State cruises past Southern Illinois Feb 17