After learning some life lessons in a tumultuous non-conference schedule marred by the death of its coach, Saint Louis Billikens is schooling the Atlantic 10 Conference on a nightly basis.
No. 24 VCU became the most recent unwilling pupil in Chaifetz Arena, enduring a 2-hour trip to the Billiken woodshed in a 76-62 drilling that the home side led by double digits for the last 28 minutes and 38 seconds.
It was Saint Louis’ 3rd win over a ranked team at home, all by at least 14 points, and this one moved it on top of the Atlantic 10 Conference. At 9-2 in the league and 20-5 overall, it owns a half-game cushion over the Rams and 15th-ranked Butler.
“Saint Louis was great tonight,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said. “They have lots of experience and good leadership. They were the aggressors the majority of the game and when that happens to us, it’s a bad sign.”
Jordair Jett came off the bench to lead the balanced Saint Louis (20-5, 9-2) with 16 points — all in the 2nd half. Mike McCall, Jr. Added 15, Dwayne Evans netted 14 points and Cody Ellis kicked in 10.
SLU shredded VCU’s vaunted “Havoc” defense, which typically wears down and wears out its opponents with depth, briskness and the facility to force turnovers. The Billikens made just eight turnovers and canned 55.3% of their shots.
How good was SLU? At one point in the 2nd half, it had scored 64 points on just 42 possessions, a ratio of more than a point and a half per trip.
“We have some guys who can handle the ball,” Evans said. “We didn’t dribble the ball into their traps and we probably did a good job. We’re putting the pieces together.” Baseball betting lines
Juvonte Reddic paced the Rams (21-6, 9-3) with game-high totals of 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Treveon Graham gave 11 and 9, respectively. But Graham, VCU’s leading scorer with 15.8 points per game, was a miserable 4-of-15 from the field.
After a foul-filled first 9 minutes in which each team was whistled for 6 fouls, Saint Louis created major separation with a run of 19 straight points, capped by McCall, Jr.’s runner in the lane which made it 30-8 at the 7:14 mark.
VCU simply couldn’t make a shot, missing 15 in a row at one point and connecting on only 8-of-29 in the 1st half. Its defense couldn’t speed the Saint Louis Billikens up, as they artfully walked the fine line of being assertive while playing under control.
“The guys were alert and strong with the ball,” SLU interim coach Jim Crews said. “VCU Rams gets you playing outside your way and playing too fast, but our guys had one 94-foot offense and did a nice job running it. We had a buffet of ways to score.”
While the VCU Rams scored on 6 of their last 7 possessions of the half, Billikens still cruised into intermission with a 38-21 lead. Evans led the Saint Louis Billikens with Ten points, hitting all 3 field goals and going 4-of-4 at the foul line.