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BillikenReport: 5 thoughts on VCU-SLU

BillikenReport.com's Ben Weixlmann breaks down the Billikens big victory over VCU

Ben Weixlmann, a 2011 Saint Louis University graduate, covers SLU men’s basketball and Atlantic 10 recruiting for BillikenReport.com on the FOX/Scout.com network.  Weixlmann’s work has been featured on many national outlets, including MSN, FOX Sports and BleacherReport.

Controlling the HAVOC.
From the tip, Saint Louis was able to control every aspect of the game.  With VCU struggling to hit shots, making just three of its first 22 field goal attempts, the Rams’ infamous “HAVOC” defense was never able to get set up.  When it did, SLU made quick passes, kept the ball moving, and navigated the pressure admirably.  The triumvirate of redshirt senior Kwamain Mitchell, and juniors Mike McCall Jr. and Jordair Jett found open teammates time and time again in building a lead that the Rams simply could not overcome.  For the third time against a ranked opponent (New Mexico, Butler, and tonight), the Billikens not only won convincingly – but did so in the first 20 minutes.

Jett Shines Maybe all he needed was a change of shoes.  After trying out a new pair of kicks in the first half, Jett made a quick halftime switch that allowed him superior grip.  His moves and shot returned out of the locker room to the tune of 16 points – including 12 consecutive in a 2:53 stretch in the early second half after the Rams had made a brief slice into the 38-21 halftime deficit.  Jett got in the lane at will and flashed a smooth jumper, proving that he’s one of the more difficult matchups in the Atlantic 10.

SLU’s Defense Rises to Occasion  While many teams pride themselves on offense, SLU has long been known as a “grind-em-out” defensive squad.  The conference’s No. 1 scoring defense lived up to its billing Tuesday night, holding VCU to just 62 points, 20 below its average.  The Billikens held the Rams to just 27 percent shooting in the first half and made good use of ample opportunities to turn good defense into better offense.  

Crowd Provides Spark  A near-sellout –10,027 people -- Chaifetz Arena was rocking.  VCU head coach Shaka Smart noted postgame that the SLU student section and crowd in general was a big catalyst for the Billikens.  Jett said that the fan support this season is at its peak in his career.  Over the past few years, SLU has established itself as one of the most difficult places to play in the Atlantic 10.

No Rest For the Weary  Sure, Tuesday night’s win over VCU was important.  The Billikens have now won eight straight and sit atop the A-10 standings at 9-2 in conference play.  Things don’t get any easier for the Bills on Friday, though.  SLU must now trip to Hinkle Fieldhouse to face a Butler team that will be eager to show that Jan. 31’s 75-58 debacle at the hands of the Billikens was a mere off-night.