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UE made it six straight road losses on Wednesday, dropping a 65-56 decision at Southern Illinois to move to 14-12 overall and 7-7 in Missouri Valley Conference play.

Coach Marty Simmons on the game, where UE was out-rebounded 38-26, turned it over 18 times and made it to the free throw line just eight times: “Give Southern credit. They played hard. They were aggressive – forced us into some quick shots. We weren’t strong with the basketball. We didn’t make good decisions. But I would definitely give them credit. They played extremely hard.”

Aces senior Colt Ryan’s take on the game: “They put a lot of pressure on us tonight, and it took us out of what we were doing really. Our guards have got to be able to catch it in the scoring area, sweep the basketball like we talk about every day and see guys. We weren’t able to run an offense tonight, really, and that will get us out of our flow. It’s kind of hard for shooters to make shots. But it’s a team thing. We’ve got to get better offense.”

Simmons on where his team could have been better: “Play with a little more poise – a little more togetherness. I think we played like that against Drake. But again, for whatever reason we took quick shots. We anticipated the pressure. We anticipated the switching. We encouraged a lot of aggressiveness – a lot of attacking. We just didn’t get it. They rode us off screens. They beat us on the glass. They beat us to loose balls. There were times out there we competed. I thought (sophomore Ryan) Sawvell came in at the end of the first half and gave us a lift. But as a unit, we just didn’t have a blue-collar mentality, and Southern did.”

What did Southern Illinois do to keep UE off the free throw line, especially after going 25 of 29 against Drake days before? “I’m not 100 percent on that,” Simmons said. “I just thought (Southern Illinois) played really hard and really aggressive, and normally that forces you to be in the attack mode. But I just didn’t feel like we had that aggressive mentality. That’s how we want to play each and every night, so when you ask why we didn’t, I guess I can’t give you the answer.”

Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson on exactly the Salukis’ approach to defense against UE: “There was a series in the game where we had a shot clock violation. We took three shot fakes and didn’t rise up on one of them and stayed down the entire time. That’s all we’ve done this week. Every drill we’ve done, we ended it with a shot fake to make sure our guys stay down…Our goal tonight was, ‘Get to the free throw line more than them.’ And we did that. Marty’s always done a great job with his teams always getting to the free throw line, and we made that a huge emphasis for us tonight…We did. Now we just have to start making them.”

Ryan on the Aces’ other shortcomings: “They rebounded the ball extremely well. On the offensive end, at times we got stops or forced them into missed shots, they would get a rebound and got offensive baskets that way. They got so many points in transition off our turnovers. It was that. That was the key factor. We had 11 turnovers at half. Against Drake, we have seven in the whole game. I know we came out in the second half, after just talking about it, two offensive rebounds the first possession and then a turnover. We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror. We were faced with our problems. We talked about them at halftime. We just didn’t execute them.”

UE beat Southern Illinois handily in the teams’ first meeting at the Ford Center, a game in which the Aces scored 84 points. Simmons on the difference the second time: “I’d have to see the stats from that (first) game. I know we shot it a lot better. I just thought they played harder. They were more aggressive. They were more competitive. They made things harder for us. We didn’t get the looks off screens and cuts like we did in the first game. They gave us resistance in pretty much anything we wanted to do.”

Hinson on the play of senior Jeff Early, a 6-foot-1 player who scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Aces: “How about that? A double-double and just a goober and a knucklehead the entire time. I mean seriously. He’s coming down the floor. He’s guarding Colt Ryan. That’s not his defensive assignment, but he just decided, ‘I’m gonna guard him this time, because I think I can guard him.’ That S on his chest just goes to his head sometimes. He starts thinking he’s Superman. He was tonight.”

Ryan looks ahead to Saturday’s game against 23rd-ranked Creighton, which lost to Northern Iowa on Wednesday: “We’ve got to keep getting better. Creighton just lost a tough one. They’ve lost a couple in a row now, and we know it’s going to be a hard-fought game there. We want to get things turned around too and get some momentum going into the conference tournament. We’ve got a tough stretch to end the conference, but we’ve got to get things done.”

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