In a rare Friday night showcase between two of the top teams within the Atlantic 10 Conference, supremacy was on the line, as well as the opportunity for the Saint Louis Billikens to earn a season sweep of Butler.
Even a year ago, the Billikens were amongst the top teams in this league, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they have positioned themselves in a similar scenario as the 2012-13 regular season nears an end.
On Friday night, however, Saint Louis got a crucial victory, making a major statement within the league in the process by shocking 15th-ranked Butler by a final score of 65-61. The win for the Billikens completed their season sweep of the Bulldogs, but most importantly sent a message to the conference newcomers that this is no cake walk.
A nine-point second half advantage and some timely plays by both Dwayne Evans and Jordair Jett helped the Billikens secure a win in a more-than-hostile Hinkle Fieldhouse.
With the victory, Saint Louis now sits at 10-2 within the league, a mark that is good enough for a one-game advantage over VCU for first place. It has quickly become a log jam atop the conference’s standings, but for the time being, it’s the Billikens who hold the highest position.
Credit the work of head coach Jim Crews. What he has accomplished this season as the interim head coach following the leave of absence and eventual passing of legendary head coach, Rick Majerus, is truly incredible.
It’s been known that the Billikens are dedicating this season to Majerus’ life, work and impact, and they are surely living up to their own expectations. The win on Friday night was their ninth in a row and the team’s 18th over the course of the past 20 games.
Saint Louis will play host to St. Joseph’s on Wednesday night, searching for that tenth consecutive win overall.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS