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SLU Exorcises its ArchBaron Cup Demons

In 1949, Jesuit priests from Saint Louis University performed an exorcism on a thirteen year-old boy. There aren’t a lot of concrete details known about it, but it forms the basis for the novel and the movie The Exorcist. On Saturday afternoon, a different sort of exorcism took place, in front of 10,000 people in the Chaifetz Arena.

After dropping five straight ArchBaron Cup matchups and 14 of the last 17, the Saint Louis University Billikens beat the Dayton Flyers 72-61. It was a wild match that included plenty of physical play, some talking, and a cameo from a Billiken legend. Yuri Collins continued his hot streak, dropping 16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, and Marten Linssen scored 17 points on 5-5 shooting, making 7 of his 8 free throw attempts as well. Flyer freshmen tandem of Da’Ron Holmes and Malachi Smith never got themselves going, with Smith looking visibly frustrated throughout the second half.

Kobe Elvis started the game off with a three pointer, but SLU took control shortly after, going on a 9-0 run and never relinquishing control after. Collins was magnificent, showing an expanded offensive arsenal, hitting layups, stepback threes and pull-up midrange jumpers. Collins and Linssen were immaculate in the pick-and-roll, keeping Smith and Holmes off balance, and delivering open layups and opportunities to draw fouls for Linssen. Collins also came down with a huge rebound in the second half amongst all of the trees and came out of it with a big display of emotion, prompting Smith and Anthony Grant to take exception and complain to the referees. Smith fouled Collins shortly after while pressuring him in the backcourt.

This edition of the ArchBaron Cup will go down in history as one of the most memorable editions of the game in its storied history, thanks in large part to the Jordair Jett Incident. Jett had been inducted into the Billiken Hall of Fame at halftime and was sitting courtside under the basketAfter a thunderous Jordan Nesbitt tomahawk dunk to put SLU up 71-57 with less than two minutes left, the 2013 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year somehow became involved in a skirmish, first with Smith and Kobe Elvis, and eventually with pretty much the entire Dayton team.

It’s not clear exactly what happened. Various explanations abound on social media and no definitive series of events has been established. However, the end result is that Dayton fans want to fight and/or arrest Jordair Jett and want him exiled from America for his crimes and SLU fans want to induct Jordair Jett into the Billiken Hall of Fame a second time and give him a honorary doctorate. It was a true “Only in the Cup” moment and ensured that this will be a game that Dayton and SLU fans talk about for a long, long time.

Fred Thatch Jr. and Gibson Jimerson had 12 and 14 points respectively. The 6’3 Thatch, operating as a power forward for SLU essentially, had huge buckets in the second half, including one sequence where he sent Toumani Camara to the floor and then hit the layup over the outstretched arms of Holmes.

Jimerson rebounded from a rough game against George Mason by going 4-6 from deep, including one off a feed from a diving Terrence Hargrove Jr., who was scrapping for a loose ball, recovered it and fed it to Jimerson on the elbow for the quick-release transition three. Francis Okoro also contributed 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.

The ArchBaron Cup season series is now tied at 1-1 and a lot more fuel has been added to the fire should these teams meet in Washington D.C. This edition of the ArchBaron Cup is only going to make the upcoming matchups better, whether it happens this year or next year. I feel bad for the Dayton fans who try to claim that SLU-Dayton isn’t a real rivalry, because when it comes down to it, this is a great matchup between two really great fanbases at Midwestern Catholic schools. That’s fun! By being so high and mighty about Dayton basketball, those fans are missing out on an incredible experience. The ArchBaron Cup is a true highlight of the A10 basketball season.

The Billikens next head to Philadelphia for a matchup on February 8 against the La Salle Explorers at beautiful Tom Gola Arena, before facing off for a home-and-away series against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies.

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...