Saint Louis University turned in one of its most suffocating defensive performances in recent memory on Thursday night as they stunned No. 9 Butler 75-58 in front of a sell-out crowd at Chaifetz Arena. The Bulldogs, making their first trip to St. Louis as part of the Atlantic 10, were often befuddled and confused by SLU’s ability to force turnovers and disrupt their offensive flow.
The Billikens (15-5, 4-2) forced 16 of Butler’s 23 turnovers in the first half alone, and taken together, SLU banked 26 points off of turnovers. Additionally, SLU held Butler to just 43 percent shooting from the field, and essentially smothered all of the Bulldogs offense, except guard Rotnei Clarke, who led the team with 17 points.
But as was so often said by former SLU coach Rick Majerus, the Bills defense dictated their offense, and Thursday was no exception. Jordair Jett turned in a masterful performance with two steals, four rebounds, and matched a career-best 19 points. Dwayne Evans added 15 while Rob Loe knocked down 12. SLU shot 50 percent from the field, including a hot 55 percent from behind the arc.
Butler (17-4, 4-2) is the highest-ranked opponent to play at SLU since No. 2 North Carolina in 2006-07. The Bulldogs are the Billikens’ biggest victim since a 1-point upset over No. 2 Louisville on Feb. 12, 2003 at the Scottrade Center, according to statistics complied by the Associated Press.
While Clarke paced his team with 19 points, he also committed a team-high six turnovers. Andrew Smith bucketed 12 points, and no other Bulldog cracked the 10-point mark.
SLU’s win further complicates an already unpredictable Atlantic 10 Conference. With Butler’s loss, seven teams in the league have two losses or more. The Billikens are currently fifth in the A-10 behind Virginia Commonwealth, Xavier, Butler, and Charlotte. SLU will face all four teams before wrapping up conference play.
The Billikens return to action Sat., Feb. 2, at Chaifetz Arena. They host the 12-8, 2-4 Dayton Flyers.