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Sunday, January 5, 2014
Updated: January 6, 4:46 PM ET
S. Illinois stranded for over 5 hours

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

Southern Illinois' men's basketball team was stranded Sunday night on Interstate 57 in Illinois for more than five and a half hours during a heavy snow storm and stayed on their bus into early Monday morning.

Southern Illinois bus
The Southern Illinois team bus became stuck in snow Sunday night on the side of Interstate 57.

The team finally returned home to Carbondale, Ill. -- a 254-mile trip from the Illinois State campus in Normal, Ill. -- on Monday at 2:15 p.m. CT.

SIU athletic director Mario Moccia had been in touch with SIU assistant coach Anthony Beane Sr., who was with the team. SIU head coach Barry Hinson and assistants Terrance McGee and Tom Hankins were not on the bus since they went recruiting following the game against Illinois State.

The Salukis were returning home after losing to the Redbirds 66-48, and were two hours out from their home in Carbondale when the bus driver decided to pull over. 

Moccia said the driver pulled off the side of the road and hoped to get a window where he could continue driving. But when the highway cleared a bit the bus was stuck. Attempts were made to get a tow, but I-57 was closed.

"They're warm," Moccia said. "They've got enough gas and food on the bus. The worst-case scenario is they will be there until the highway opens. They'll have to wait for a tow truck to pull them out."

The bus stayed on the side of the highway before a tow truck got them back on the road, according to player's tweets.

Some of the players tweeted their reactions to being stuck Sunday night:

Somebody come pull Siu's bus out. Currently stranded in the ditch on the interstate somewhere in the champaign area...

— Dawson Verhines (@dverhines24) January 6, 2014

Are we seriously stuck on the side of the road? This can't be life! Pray4Us.. #SIUBB

— Jalen Pendleton (@easymoneyJUICE) January 6, 2014

Stranded on a closed interstate, Stuck in a ditch. Wish us luck.

— Tyler Smithpeters (@Tsmithpeters20) January 6, 2014

So the interstate is closed, yet we're still stuck 3 feet off the road with no help close to champaign? Definitely stranded

— Josh Swan (@JoshSwan_) January 6, 2014

UPDATE: We are in the same exact spot. Have not seen one car pass by the past hour

— Tyler Smithpeters (@Tsmithpeters20) January 6, 2014

@KellyBurkeSprts still stuck. They're saying tow truck could be few more hours but we're warm and safe!

— Dawson Verhines (@dverhines24) January 6, 2014

@KellyBurkeSprts UPDATE: a few whispers of cannibalism as the night grows darker

— Bronson Verhines (@B_Verhines) January 6, 2014

If anybody REALLY cares about us, they would bring us some food... And a pillow for my head. The cold window is only so comforting lol

— Josh Swan (@JoshSwan_) January 6, 2014

Being stranded on this bus for hours has helped me understand the frequently asked question "what would you do for a Klondike bar?" ANYTHING

— Josh Swan (@JoshSwan_) January 6, 2014

Four long hours stuck.

— Tyler Smithpeters (@Tsmithpeters20) January 6, 2014

I think Jimmy John's can handle this kind of weather and come in clutch with some sandwiches!!

— Tyler Smithpeters (@Tsmithpeters20) January 6, 2014

TOW TRUCK JUST GOT HERE. NO MORE STRUGGLE BUS!!

— Tyler Smithpeters (@Tsmithpeters20) January 6, 2014

BACK ON THE ROAD. Turn up

— Tyler Smithpeters (@Tsmithpeters20) January 6, 2014