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Rhode Island Demon Exorcised from Saint Louis in Atlantic 10 opener

After five long years, Saint Louis edged out Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 conference opener 59-58. Jordair Jett carries Saint Louis on his back with a career high 31 points after Dwayne Evans got into foul trouble. The Atlantic 10 should be very exciting this season if this game is any indication of how this conference season will play out.

Jordair Jett scored a career high 31 points in the Billikens one point victory against Rhode Island
Jordair Jett scored a career high 31 points in the Billikens one point victory against Rhode Island
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Saint Louis seniors finally exorcised the Rhode Island demon that has been making it lose one crazy way or another the past five years. It was a scrappy one point victory against Rhode Island, 59-58. The Billikens extend their winning streak to seven games with their first victory against the Rhode Island Rams since the 2009-2010 season.

Jordair Jett played the best game of his Saint Louis career, putting the team on his back after Dwayne Evans picked up his fourth foul early in the second half. Jett scored 31 points, collected four rebounds and dished out two assists. It was the most points by a Billiken since Kwamain Mitchell scored 33 points against UMKC in 2009.

The second half was the story of this game. Saint Louis took an eleven point lead early in the second half, but Rhode Island somehow found their magic against SLU and sparked a 10-2 run thanks to two Xavier Munford three pointers. Munford was cold the entire first half, but found his swagger in the second half, ultimately ending up with 16 points.

SLU went cold in the second half, allowing Rhode Island to get back into the game. Rhode Island quickly extended that 10-2 run into a 24-5 run, giving them a five point lead with 8:48 left in the second half. However, Austin McBroom responded with a three pointer and the game became a back and forth affair after that point.

That’s when Jordair Jett turned from a mere mortal into a beast. Throughout the second half he kept driving to the left and Rhode Island simply had no response, even though Jett has always driven left throughout his career; he scored 12 of SLU’s final 15 points. That aggression is what kept Saint Louis in the game even with Dwayne Evans on the bench through most of the second half.

Despite Jett’s efforts, Rhode Island remained in the game, tying it up at 57 with 57 seconds left thanks to an E.C. Matthews three pointer. After a turnover by each team. Jett fouled Munford with 17 seconds left in the game, and Munford made one of two free throws. After that, Jett drove to the right for the only time all game and drew the foul against Jarelle Reischel. Jett converted both free throws giving the Bills a one point lead. Jett then stole the ball after a Rhode Island timeout to seal the victory for Saint Louis.

Going inside was the key in first half for SLU, they ran a lot of set plays to Dwayne Evans and Rob Loe giving the Bills many points in the paint accounting for their 13-9 lead with 11:57 left in the first half. In previous years, the Bills would loft up three pointers against the Rams in hopes of converting their threes, but this year they continually drove inside to Evans and Loe. They continued to find success on the inside during the first half.

Rhode Island kept hanging around in the first half and tied the game briefly at 14, but the Billikens went on an 8-0 run with to rebuild their lead thanks in part to two energetic dunks by Evans to give the Bills an eight point lead with 3:18 left in the first half. St. Louis ran a great play to close the first half. Mike Crawford passed the ball to Rob Loe who touched it to Jordair Jett who drove for the left handed layup to close the half.

If this game is any indication for how the Atlantic 10 season is going down, well sit back, relax and enjoy because it is going to be a fun conference season.