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CARBONDALE, Ill. Denis Suarez Jersey . -- Southern Illinois was inspired offensively by coach Barry Hinsons return to the bench following a death in the family, and the Salukis shot 54 per cent. It wasnt nearly good enough against No. 8 Wichita State. Fred VanVleet had 17 points, seven assists, two steals and no turnovers and the Shockers remained unbeaten behind 62 per cent shooting, opening Missouri Valley Conference play with an 82-67 victory Thursday night. "Were glad to get out of here with a win," coach Gregg Marshall said. "I knew that with everything thats been going on with Coach Hinson, the way the team had rallied around him and then with the tragedy with his family, we were honestly afraid that this team would pull out something special." Hinson returned after missing one game due to the death of his son-in-law, 31-year-old Niles Thomason, on Christmas while visiting family. In an emotional postgame news conference, the usually fiery coach blamed himself for the loss, saying he just wasnt up to it. He also pointed out that Wichita State was very, very good and coming off a Final Four appearance, and said the key to game was the "the little stinker VanVleet." Last month after a loss at Murray State, Hinson called players "mamas boys," then later apologized for singling out a player for criticism. "Tonight, I dont mind telling you Im going to point the finger at me," Hinson said, his voice halting at times. "When youre 52 years old, you ought to be mature enough to at least figure out how to fake it, and get your guys energized. "And I couldnt do that, so I take full responsibility." Hinson said the death hit him hard on New Years Eve. "The biggest thing that bothers me is Im a basketball coach and Im a father and we fix things," Hinson said. "And I cant, I cant, fix this." Cleanthony Early scored 23 points for the Shockers (14-0, 1-0), the preseason conference favourites. The 14-0 start is five wins better than the schools previous best and the 14-game winning streak matches the school mark set in 1953-54 under coach Ralph Miller. "Like Coach says, its easy to get a good look every time when youre setting yourself up," Early said. "Its easy to fall in love with just trying to score every time when you get a big lead like that but we stayed patient and stayed focused." Sean OBrien and Desmar Jackson had 19 points apiece for Southern Illinois (4-10, 0-1), which upset Wichita State at home last February the week after the Shockers had been knocked out of the Top 25. "This group plays a little smarter than that group at times," Marshall said. "It starts with Fred." Nick Wiggins added 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting for Wichita State. Southern Illinois was out of it early despite its strong shooting. OBrien topped his previous career best of 11 points. Wichita State shot 59 per cent to go with a 16-8 rebounding advantage and near error-free play while building a 49-32 halftime lead, committing its lone turnover with about 3 minutes to go. The Shockers got contributions across the board with an 18-0 run over a span of 3:19 that made it 33-16 with just over 8 minutes to go. Darius Carter opened the run with consecutive baskets and the Shockers got three-point plays from Early and VanVleet plus 3-pointers by Wiggins and VanVleet. Late in the half, Cotton and Early got behind the Southern Illinois defence on consecutive possessions in transition. The Shockers are 30-8 on the road the last three seasons, best in the nation. Sergio Busquets Jersey . The cause of his death is as of yet undetermined, but police said foul play is not suspected. Ivan Rakitic Jersey . JOHNS, N.CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Al Jefferson is doubtful for Game 4 Monday night against the Miami Heat due to a lingering foot injury, according to Bobcats coach Steve Clifford. Jefferson, the teams leading scorer and rebounder, has been hobbled since straining the plantar fascia in his left foot in the first quarter of Game 1. He didnt participate in Mondays shoot around. "Hes not close to where he was for the last two games," Clifford said. Clifford said in Game 3 Jeffersons foot got worse as the game progressed and having only one day off in between games didnt help his chances of being ready for Game 4. Jefferson hobbled noticeably Monday as he left the gym after watching teammates shoot around in practice. Jefferson said he feels as if hes "walking on needles." "I wouldnt wish this pain on anyone," Jefferson said. "Its the worst pain Ive ever dealt with in my career." Jefferson wouldnt rule himself out, saying hes taking things hour-to-hour. "Im seeing how its going to feel and go from there," Jefferson said. Miami leads the series 3-0 and can close out the Bobcats with a win Monday night in Charlotte. Clifford said Bismack Biyombo is expected to start for Jefferson. That represents a major dropoff in production, particularly from the offensive end. Jefferson averaged 21.8 points and 10.8 rebound per game in his first season with the Bobcats, while Biyombo has never scored more than 14 points in a game.. Jasper Cillessen Jersey. . Biyombo has only played 15 minutes in the playoffs and scored one point. Jeffersons teammates said they respect his ability to get on the floor the past two games. "He has given us all he can," point guard Kemba Walker said. "And I think down to a man we appreciate his effort. Hes been nothing but great for us. He has been playing really well and hes not 100 per cent." Said Clifford: "I know how badly Al wants to play. The most upset person about this is him. So its frustrating, but again its part of pro sports." Clifford said the Bobcats will play more five-man basketball using pick and rolls, rather than relying on Jefferson in the low post. Walker, the teams second-leading scorer, will be relied upon to help pick up the slack in Jeffersons absence. "We have to find better ways for Kemba to be on the attack," Clifford said. Jefferson said its frustrating that he worked so hard all season only to injure the foot in the first quarter of the playoffs. "This season has been a great season for all of the things we have done so far," Jefferson said. "We are going into the game tonight trying to win... Regardless of what may happen it has been a wonderful season and guys have a lot to be proud of for the things we have done this season. But we cant take any steps back. We have to continue to build and get better." Jefferson said he wont need surgery after the season. 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