Well, it’s official, the rebuilding project for Saint Louis University is in full swing. This was indicated by a blowout loss against Mississippi State in the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic. The Billikens had their worst loss in five years against the Mississippi State Bulldogs losing by 25 points, 75-50. This team has six freshmen and their inexperience clearly showed against a veteran Mississippi State team, which might be a better team than many have given the Bulldogs credit for in the SEC and nationally. SLU needs to find some leadership for this young team because the few veterans on the team struggled as much as the freshmen. It going to be long year for Billikens fans.
The Bulldogs opened the game with three straight 3-pointers. Fred Thomas and Travis Daniels started the party for Mississippi State as they did not missed a field goal for eight minutes. Eight Minutes! This allowed the Bulldogs to go up 18-5 early against the Billikens.
Saint Louis struggled for the first eight minutes of this game. The team looked uncomfortable as they struggle to find an open shots and get in a rhythm offensively. They are still trying to fit the pieces together after losing everyone from last year’s team. The Billikens struggled for most of the first half.
After being up 18 points, 36-18, Mississippi State finally cooled off from their scorching hot start. As the Bulldogs began to miss shots, Saint Louis began to get some open looks. Forward Milik Yarbrough slashed to the basket to get four quick points for the Bills to begin a 9-1 run to close the first half. As the offense began to produce for the Bills, their defense picked up.
Over the final 5:28 of the first half, Saint Louis forced Mississippi State to go 0-4 from the field and forced 3 turnovers. That allowed the Bills to get with striking distance at halftime. SLU guard Austin McBroom hit a 3-pointer just before halftime to close the run. Saint Louis was only down by 10 points, 37-27, at the half.
The Billikens were able to cut the lead down to 7 points, but that was as close as they got to challenge the Bulldogs. They had two opportunities to cut the lead further, but missed the layups to cut the Bulldog lead to 5 points. After that point, it was all Bulldogs.
Mississippi State went on an 18-2 run to go ahead 60-37 at the midway point in the second half. Gavin Ware and Daniels lead the charge for the Bulldogs during this run with Ware providing some highlight reel dunks. Saint Louis went cold during this stretch and that put the game out of reach.
Saint Louis will play Bradley in the consolation game of the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic while Mississippi State will play Texas Christian University in the championship game of the same tournament.