The Billikens needed this win. Maybe for no other reason than to prove to themselves that they can win, that they are built to win. They were expected to win on mild Wednesday in early December, and they delivered.
Things looked rough to start out. Six points after five minutes of play and the feeling of, “man…not this again” seemed to cling to the crowd. But, the way things began are not the way things ended. The Billikens dropped 74 on the night to tie their season high, and as jumpers started to fall, and drives resulted in dunks, lay ins, and trips to the line, that feeling, that cloud of dread, left out the back door and headed west down 40.
The trouble from deep continued as the squad went a combined 6-22. But this game was won inside the arc. SLU went 19-33 for 57.5% from two and added 18-25 from the line for a 72% clip. Those are positives that can be built upon and taken through the rest of December. When something hits rock bottom like it did against Butler, incremental improvement is where a team this new, young, and lacking in depth must begin to build towards the new year.
Highlights and Turning Points
French Returns: After missing the Butler game with a bum ankle Hashan French returned to the lineup and was crucial to the Billikens. He played 33 minutes, scored 12, and played some relentless defense highlighted by a couple show stopping blocks.
Kavion Pippen: Yes, the nephew of Scottie Pippen was in the house. He is 6’10” and all arms and legs. He had length that was a feat to deal with. French was tasked with checking him in the block. “I Tried to keep him from ducking under me in the post, which is something he likes to do.” French attributed his solid defense to great preparation and sticking to his plan.
Pippen has game, and a mean stare down game to match. He plays a little more like Zo than Pip, but if he keeps progressing he could be a solid back up center at the next level.
Davell Roby: Man, he got hot. Drained back to back threes followed by a sick pull up in the lane. But, he left with what the team officially called sickness. Coach Ford said he isn’t 100% certain, but he feels Roby is okay. More to come.
Jordan Goodwin: The freshman guard picked the perfect night to have a career game. He dropped 20 points, grabbed nine boards and was an absolute force on both ends of the court. His energy was at full throttle for all 36 minutes he spent on the hardwood. He’s growing as a player and growing up fast.
Javon Bess: Number three was a tale of two halves against SIU. His offense in the 1st half amounted to 0 points and 1 assist to go along three turnovers. In the final ten minutes of the game Bess dropped all nine of his points including two huge threes that keep uncle mo on the Billikens’ side.
On to the next…
Houston comes in to the STL on Saturday night sporting a 7-1 record and six straight wins. Coach Ford stated that the Billikens have been in “figuring it out mode for the past couple weeks,” and they need to keep figuring it out if they want this win to be more than a blip, and more like a second start to the season.