HONOLULU, Hi. – SIUE men's basketball has its first 2-0 start to a season as a Division I program after a 77-68 win over Florida Atlantic in the second game of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic.
The Cougars (2-0) nearly led wire-to-wire, leading the entire game with the exception of a stretch early in the first half and never trailed in the second half. Florida Atlantic fell to 0-2 with the loss.
The last time SIUE started a season 2-0 was the 2005-06 season in which the Cougars advanced to Elite Eight in Division II.
SIUE got double-doubles from Keenan Simmons and Tre Harris, marking the first time since the 2011-12 season that two players have collected a double-double. Three other players scored in double figures. The Cougars also finished with a 46-35 edge in rebounding.
"We did some really good things," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "We're growing defensively. For the length and the athleticism that Florida Atlantic has, to outrebound that team by 11 is tremendous."
Simmons scored 11 points and set a career high in rebounds for the second straight game, finishing with 14. Harris scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Carlos Anderson led the scoring with 15 points. Jalen Henry scored 14 points and Burak Elsik scored 10 points for SIUE.
"We have great balance," Harris added. "The guys are doing a tremendous job trusting their teammates. They've done a good job moving the basketball and sharing the basketball. Depending on what the defense give us, those guys are taking advantage of it."
SIUE shot 43.6 percent (24-55) for the game, but connected on 14 of 25 shots (56.0 percent) in the first half. The Cougars ballooned their lead to 12 on a three-pointer from Anderson with 11:37 to play in the first half and carried a 40-33 lead into the break.
"The key to success is that we have to continue to trust each other and trust in the system," Harris said.
SIUE enjoyed its largest lead, 16 points, when Henry made it 69-53 with a jumper with 7:45 left.
FAU's Gerdarius Troutman led all scorers with 20 points. He was 6 for 11 from three-point range. Nick Rutherford scored 14 points and Ronald Delph added 13 points.
The Cougars play their final game in the Rainbow Classic Monday against Texas State. Tipoff is slated for 10 p.m. CT.
Harris believes the Cougars are in their right mind set to win.
"The focus has been there," he said. "With a young team, you don't always have it that way. At the end of the day when that things tips, they believe they can win the ballgame and that can't be understated."