After their second straight slow start, the Billikens used a large scoring run in each half to wrap up a 78-62 victory.
“There were some definite bright spots,” redshirt-junior guard Paul Eckerle said.
Freshman forward Dwayne Evans led the Billikens in scoring and rebounding with 12 points and 14 rebounds for his first career double-double.
“He gives a lot to us both offensively and defensively,” Eckerle said. “He’s an athletic guy who boards really well and he did a great job tonight.”
Freshman guard Jordair Jett and junior forward Brian Conklin also scored in double figures for the Billikens.
SLU was paced by a 19-2 run to create a double-digit cushion midway through the opening half against the visiting Sharks. The Billikens pushed the lead to 14 at 33-19, but the Sharks stormed back and took advantage of cold shooting after the four-minute media timeout to close the Billikens lead to 39-31 at halftime.
Throughout the first 20 minutes, SLU shared the ball well to the tune of 11 assists on 15 field goals, with nine different scorers.
Junior guard Kyle Cassity hit a 3-pointer with 12 minutes remaining to place every Billiken in the score sheet.
“We did better tonight — a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio,” SLU coach Rick Majerus said. “They’re a good team. I played against their coach a couple times when I was at Utah. But they aren’t Division I scholarship-athletes.”
After the halftime break, the Sharks came out strong and cut SLU’s lead to four points before the Billikens went on a 12-2 run and took control of the game for good.
“They played with a greater sense of urgency,” Majerus said.
Majerus and Eckerle echoed the same sentiment: the squad has a ways to go.
“I’m looking for positives, but I see too many negatives,” Majerus said.
“We can’t give up 47 percent from the field,” Eckerle said.
The final margin was the largest lead for the Billikens, who now look forward to their season opener against Austin Peay on Friday at Chaifetz Arena.