St. Louis, Mo. –The long-awaited return of redshirt senior guard Kwamain Mitchell was a success as Saint Louis University dominated the visiting SIU-Edwardsville Cougars by a score of 68-41.
Although Mitchell struggled to get his offense going, the Billikens as a whole were superb defensively holding SIUE to just six-for-27 shooting in the first frame.
A sluggish game early-on was interrupted by an 11-0 run in 5:10 from SLU, which was accented by two back-to-back three-pointers by junior wing Jake Barnett, making the score 27-14. SLU continued to pour it on, ending the half on a 20-3 run and going into the break up 36-17 on a deep triple from senior forward Cody Ellis.
One of the huge points of emphasis by interim head coach Jim Crews has been limiting turnovers. The Billikens did just that Friday night as they surrendered the ball just 9 times. That's certainly a theme that has reflected positively over the past few weeks. SLU hasn't reached the the double-digit mark in turnovers since Nov. 28 when it turned the ball over 13 times in a loss at Washington.
The second 20 minutes featured much more of the same as SLU held SIUE scoreless for the first 4:59 of the latter frame. The Cougars' star Jerome Jones mustered up 15 points, but was forced to take 16 shots and was taken out of his game by a much more physical, talented, and larger Billikens squad.
With a difficult game approaching in just three days, Crews limited Mitchell's minutes to 19, but he looked as though he had the stamina and conditioning to go much more. Two of his three-point attempts were right on line but just a bit short. He looked aggressive to the basket on numerous occasions and seemed in the flow of things. It allowed SLU to get open shots for other players, something that will be a big key moving into a tough Atlantic 10 Conference schedule, starting on Jan. 10.
AREAS TO IMPROVE:
Rebounding. SLU didn't own the glass as it should've against a much smaller SIUE team (tallest starter was 6-foot-5)
Free-throw shooting. A shaky performance from the charity stripe didn't mean much Friday night, but it will be imperative moving forward.
Finishing an opponent. Sure, there were some odd lineups as the game clock ran down, but the Billikens were poor on execution in the final frame.
NEXT UP: New Mexico on Dec. 31 at Chaifetz Arena.
SLU (9-3) dominated SIU-Edwardsville 68-41 on Friday night at Chaifetz Arena. The Billikens won their sixth straight game and will face New Mexico on New Year's Eve.