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SLU Arch Baron Cup Preview: Can the Billikens Be Senior Night Spoilers?

With all due respect to La Salle, the main event of the Saint Louis University Billikens Men’s Basketball team’s revenge week is tonight. At 7pm ET/6pm CT, the Billikens take on Jalen Crutcher and the Dayton Flyers at Dayton on the Flyers’ senior night. Crutcher has ruined a lot of Billikens’ nights over the past 4 years, and SLU has a chance to gain retribution on his Senior Night and show that their 76-71 home loss earlier in the year to Dayton was a COVID-pause related fluke.

Tonight’s game isn’t just about revenge, however, but a must-win game for SLU’s at-large hopes. SLU only has three games left before the A10 Tournament takes place, and they are all extremely tough, must-win games. Dayton is simply the first on the list. The 11-7 Flyers have been up-and-down all year, but they have a lot of weapons, and any team with Jalen Crutcher has the potential to notch a win on any given night. 

SLU is going to need to stop him, and the onus for that will fall to Fred Thatch, Jordan Goodwin, and, if he is healthy, Yuri Collins. While Dayton undoubtedly has more weapons at its disposal, SLU simply cannot let Crutcher beat them. The Billikens’ goal needs to be to completely ruin his senior night. 

Offensively, Javonte Perkins needs to continue his recent return-to-form. Perkins wasn’t himself in the first matchup and it really hurt the Billikens. SLU only lost to Dayton by 5 points last game, despite looking completely awful most of the game, so a strong performance by Perkins would go a long way into giving SLU the W this time around. 

It’ll also be interesting to see Anthony Grant’s line-up decisions this game, particularly how much he sticks with five-guard line-ups that, as Chris Pyle writes, have been much more successful for the Flyers, despite Grant often going away from them in crunchtime. However, it is worth noting that the Billikens can match up well against those line-ups given Hasahn French’s ability to stick with smaller and quicker players on the perimeter. A bigger problem might be finding ways to stop Elijah Weaver and Ibi Watson, particularly when Perkins and Gibson Jimerson are matched up with them. Perkins’ defense has been inconsistent, and while Jimerson has really stepped up his defensive effort, he might simply not be quick enough to put the clamps on either. 

The final key is Jordan Goodwin, the heart-and-soul of the Billkens. Goodwin has stepped his game up to a whole new level in Collins’ absence, threatening a triple double in the past three games, and only turning the ball over three times in those games, after averaging three turnovers a game in the games prior. Goodwin has averaged 15 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals per game since Collins went down. If Goodwin can continue playing like “Point Good”, even if Yuri returns tonight, SLU could really put a beating on the Flyers. Even though Goodwin seems to play with more of a scoring mentality at the 2, his scoring has stayed the same since playing point guard. If Collins is healthy, the team is still much better with him on the court than off it, but Goodwin needs to think and play like a second point guard when he is out there with Collins in order to unlock the true offensive potential for the Billikens. 

While it’s never an easy task coming into Dayton and beating the Flyers, if the Billikens are truly back, they have a good chance to prove to Billiken fans that revenge truly is the sweetest dish of all. 


Jack Godar covers Saint Louis University for A10Talk. He is a St. Louis native who grew up rooting for SLU, but is a graduate of College of the Holy C...