Balanced Billikens Turn Away Oral Roberts, 72-55
ST. LOUIS – Saint Louis took command with a 12-1 second-half run, and the Billikens remained undefeated with a 72-55 victory over Oral Roberts Thursday night at Chaifetz Arena in the opening game of the Cancun Challenge.
Jett added five rebounds (tying his season high), four assists and a game- and season-high three steals. Austin McBroom and Jake Barnett chipped in eight points apiece, while Grandy Glaze grabbed seven rebounds.
“I’m just trying to contribute to the team as much as I can for us to be successful,” Jett said. “We have a lot of great players, scoring comes naturally to a lot of us. Everyone doesn’t showcase it, we just contribute and play our role on the team.”
Shawn Glover scored a game-high 18 points for Oral Roberts, which saw leading scorer Obi Emegano (23.3 ppg) exit in the first half with an injury after netting six points.
D.J. Jackson had 12 points, and Korey Billbury collected a game-high 15 rebounds to lead Oral Roberts (2-2) to a 39-37 edge on the boards.
“We knew nothing was going to be easy tonight, and it certainly wasn’t,” SLU head coach Jim Crews said. “It thought our guys did a good job of staying with the process and making a few adjustments throughout the game and at halftime, and didn’t get overanxious.”
The Billikens trailed by three at the break after shooting just 31.4 percent from the floor. ORU connected on 56.5 percent in the first 20 minutes.
The second half was a different story, however, as SLU shot 53.3 percent to ORU’s 30 percent. Both teams shot 41.5 percent for the game.
Saint Louis committed a season-low six turnovers and outscored Oral Roberts 17-8 in points off turnovers. The Bills earned a decisive 42-26 advantage in points in the paint.
Despite scoring on eight of their first 11 second-half possessions – six different players notched at least two points in that stretch – the Billikens found themselves in a 44-44 tie at the 11-minute mark.
The decisive run began quietly as Evans broke the stalemate with a free throw. He followed with a baseline drive, and McCall Jr. banged home a 3-pointer for a 50-44 SLU lead.
After an ORU free throw, McCall Jr. drove the lane for a layup, Loe sank both ends of a 1-and-1, and Jett converted twice from the stripe to give SLU its first double-digit cushion, 56-45, with 6:43 remaining.
The Golden Eagles narrowed the gap to nine points twice, but another Saint Louis flurry sealed the deal. Jett and McBroom registered seven and four points, respectively, as the Bills scored on five successive possessions to build a 69-53 cushion.
The opening half featured five ties in the first 10 minutes, the last a 14-all deadlock after Jett and McCall Jr. sank a pair of free throws apiece to erase a 14-10 Oral Roberts lead.
The Golden Eagles scored on four consecutive possessions in a 9-2 spurt that gave them the largest first-half advantage for either team, 23-16.
SLU pulled to within a bucket as Barnett connected from beyond the arc and Jett made a layup after collecting a loose ball. Jackson gave ORU a 25-21 edge with a layup, but Barnett drained another 3-pointer to trim the margin to one.
Oral Roberts led 29-24 following Adrion Webber’s offensive rebound and layup and two Billbury free throws. McBroom’s driving layup was answered by two Jackson free throws, but McBroom made it a three-point game at intermission, 31-28, by quickly traveling the length of the floor for another layup at the horn.
The Billikens host Bowling Green Saturday, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m. in game two of the Cancun Challenge. The tournament moves to Mexico next week, with SLU set to take on Wisconsin Tuesday, Nov. 26.
“It’ll be big for us to come in tomorrow and get work done, especially for the younger guys who haven’t experienced the one day in between a game,” Evans said. “We’ll be ready, though. There’s no excuses.”