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Hurting Billikens down Southern Illinois 61-51

Dwayne Evans scored a team-high 14 points and pulled in six rebounds to help Saint Louis University to a 61-51 victory over Southern Illinois Saturday night at Chaifetz Arena. Evans hit five of seven shots from the field for the Billikens, who shot 51 percent as a team. Saint Louis improves to 3-2 with the victory and 28-24 in its series with SIU.

Saint Louis scored the first points of the game and never looked back, grabbing control in the first half despite being out-rebounded 11-1 on the offensive glass.

With forward Grandy Glaze sidelined with a dislocated shoulder and guard Jordair Jett hobbled with an apparent groin injury, junior forward Jake Barnett got to make his first start as a Billiken, registering five points and two rebounds over 26 minutes of playing time.

The Toledo-transfer, who logged 33 minutes against Kansas last week, played the entire first half against Southern Illinois, pushing his season average to 21 minutes per game.

Jett played 26 minutes for the Billikens, finishing with four points and a block. The injury limited the junior guard on offense, stranding him along the perimeter throughout much of the game.

Defensively, Jett looked lost at times during the first half, struggling to keep up with his assigned player. He bounced back nicely in the second half, however, showing off the aggressiveness on defense that earned him a spot on the preseason Atlantic 10 All-Defensive squad.

Senior Cody Ellis was also limited at practice this week, due to a shoulder injury.

The Billikens built their lead to 12 early in the second half, but the Salukis refused to go away quietly, eventually pulling to within five behind a 3-pointer from Kendal Brown-Surles with 16:41 left. Rob Loe made sure that was as close as SIU would get, however, hitting consecutive treys to push Saint Louis’ lead to 39-30.

Loe, who was a combined 1-for-8 from behind the arc over his last two games, was a perfect 3-for-3 against the Salukis, en route to a 12-point performance.

After a Cory Remekun layup gave the Billikens an 11-point lead midway through the first half, the Salukis responded with a five-point run—highlighted by a five-point outburst by Jeff Early—to pull within four at the 5:29 mark. Saint Louis stifled that charge, however, closing the half with 3-pointers from Mike McCall Jr., Ellis and Barnett to build their lead back to double digits heading into halftime.

McCall, who has played at least 35 minutes in each of the team’s five games this season, finished with nine points and matched a career-high with eight assists. The junior guard registered eight assists against Jacksonville on Dec. 15, 2010.

With SIU now in the books, Saint Louis will travel to Seattle to take on Washington in its lone road non-conference game of the year. The Huskies lost to Colorado State 73-55 Saturday night despite a 28-point performance from C.J. Wilcox.

Aziz N’Diaye (11.5 PPG, 11.8 RPG) and Abdul Gaddy (16.0 PPG) are two players worth keeping an eye on as the Billikens look to string together consecutive wins for the first time this season.

Tip-off from Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle is set for 11 p.m. central.

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