The Bulldogs started quickly, maintained a sizable lead, and more importantly, closed out the game strong to defeat Poplar Bluff 74-43 at Peters Gymnasium.
Much of the season, in particularly the last few games, Sikeston has played good basketball, only to collapse in the fourth quarter.
But that didn't happen Friday as the Bulldogs put together four strong quarters to rout the Mules on the same floor they dominated the last five years.
"I could see it coming the last two practices we've had," said Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield. "This is the first time in six weeks that we've really had our team together and fairly healthy. It's been unbelievable the stuff that we've gone through, and a lot of people don't know about it. But I could start to see things clicking Wednesday."
The Bulldogs (11-8, 3-2 SEMO) were as sharp as they've been since defeating Charleston 67-64 on Jan. 5.
Sikeston was simply on fire from the field, shooting 28-44 (64 percent). They were also 4-7 from 3-point range.
The Bulldogs also totally dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Mules 35-13.
Sikeston converted 19 Poplar Bluff turnovers into 26 points on the night.
"Sikeston did a great job," said Poplar Bluff coach Lamont Frazier. "They came out and played the way they've played all year, whether they're 30 up or 15 down. they just came out and played. We were high, we were low. We've got to learn to be even and conserve that energy and try to become steady over the course of 32 minutes."
Poplar Bluff (6-13, 2-3 SEMO) hung tough for most of the first quarter. After falling behind 14-7 on a Michael Porter breakaway slam, the Mules closed the gap to 16-14 on a Riley Raulston 3-pointer with 1:11 left in the quarter.
But Sikeston finished things off in the period with six straight points, including a Porter putback at the buzzer to lead 22-14.
The Bulldogs opened up a double-digit lead early in the second quarter after a Matt Ritch old-fashioned 3-point play to take a 29-17 lead, and they never looked back from there.
The Bulldogs took a 43-27 lead into halftime when Brandon Washington drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key just before the halftime buzzer.
"I thought we were ready to play but I think we got caught up in watching the game," said Frazier. "We got caught up in watching the game. We're taking one step forward and two steps back and when you do that you're always going to be one step behind."
The Bulldogs put the game away in the third quarter with a 13-0 run to take a 56-27 lead.
The Bulldogs missed only one shot in the third quarter, and that came when Isaac Porter stole a pass with two seconds left and put up a prayer at the buzzer.
"We have never been a team that has done well in the third quarter, especially right at the beginning, we've always struggled," said Frazier. "When you do that against good teams, you get beat. We went from 16 down to 22 down in 2 minutes, 21 seconds. When that happens, you're headed in the wrong way fast. That's the sign of a good team. They turned it on when they needed to and we couldn't withstand the run."
Sikeston led 61-33 entering the fourth quarter and eventually put the running clock mercy rule on the Mules in the final frame.
"We've never been able to get in sync and I think the last two days we've gotten in sync and have played hard as a team and we carried that over to the game tonight," said Holifield. "It was one of those things where we got some breaks and things went our way tonight."
Washington received a starting nod at forward and the junior responded with the best game of his varsity career, scoring a season-high 21 points (7-9 shooting), with six rebounds and three steals.
"He played well," said Holifield of Washington. "He played great against Charleston and he hurt his ankle right after that. Tonight is as full strength as he's been in a long time."
Michael Porter was held well below his scoring average of 21 points per game, but he still had a solid all-around game, scoring 11 points (5-7 shooting) with nine rebounds, a season-high six assists, five blocked shots and two steals.
Isaac Porter had 10 points, six assists and five steals. Julian Beard added 11 points, all in the first half. Ray Rodgers had eight points with six rebounds.
We were just better in most aspects of the game tonight," said Holifield. "Hopefully, things are starting to fall into place for us. We've got some work to do defensively, but there were some good things tonight."
Poplar Bluff struggled from the field, going 15-42 (36 percent).
The Mules were led by Phillip Brown's 14 points, all coming in the second and third quarters.
Holifield has won two straight against the Mules to even his record against Poplar Bluff at 7-7 since he's been the head coach at Sikeston. The Bulldogs have also won nine of their last 11 games at Peters Gymnasium, losing only to the Tyler Hansbrough-led Mules in 2003 and 2005.
Sikeston will host Oran in a non-conference game on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs will have homecoming night on Friday when they host Cape Central.
The Sikeston J.V. team had its nine-game winning streak snapped with a 59-39 loss to Poplar Bluff.
The Bulldog junior varsity falls to 12-4 and 4-1 in SEMO Conference play.
Sikeston trailed 14-11 after one quarter and allowed Kerey Smith to score a layup at the buzzer to give the Mules a 24-23 lead at the half.
The jayvee Bulldogs couldn't keep pace in the second half, falling behind 43-33 and even further in the fourth quarter.
Sikeston was led by freshman Eli Jackson's 11 points and five rebounds. Sherwin Jones added 10 points. Freshman Juqualin Wiggins had five points, five rebounds and four assists.
Poplar Bluff (11-4, 3-2 SEMO) was led by Jay Raulston's 19 points. Smith had 17 points and Jordan Chaligoj had 14 points.