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Jimerson, SLU Gets Revenge on Bonnies 57-56, Prepares to Face Davidson on Saturday

“He’s not clutch.” ‘He can’t score against good teams.” When it mattered most against St. Bonaventure, Jimerson delivered a powerful rebuttal to his haters. Jimerson led SLU with 20 points, hit 6 three pointers on 9 attempts, and sunk what turned out to be the game-winning shot after Kyle Lofton missed 2 free throws with 1.8 seconds left in the game to seal a 57-56 Billikens win.

Jimerson and Francis Okoro were the only offensive threats for SLU for much of the game. Okoro scored 14 points, all in the first half, and completely neutralized Osun Osunniyi down low. Osunniyi didn’t even get a shot attempt off until late in the second half and finished with only 6 points. Okoro notched yet another double-double, pulling down 12 rebounds in addition to his 14 points. Okoro also sealed the paint off nicely on a couple of plays, allowing Yuri Collins to finish two easy layups.

Jimerson was the true star today, providing a consistent source of offense and shining as the Billikens’ first option, a role he was forced into this year after Javonte Perkins tore his ACL at the start of the season. Jimerson was lethal off-ball, moving constantly and working his way into open shots time and time again. Once Jimerson got to his spot, he was almost automatic, hitting key shots for the Billikens time and time again.

Jimerson’s transcendent offensive performance and strong Billiken defense made up for struggles elsewhere. Turnovers were a huge issue for SLU the first two games, and that remained an issue today. SLU turned the ball over 17 times after turning it over 35 times the first two times combined. Additionally, outside of Jimerson, SLU shot 15-42 from the field and 1-6 from deep.

However, St. Bonaventure shot only 38.1% from the field, 25% from deep, and most importantly, only went 3-8 from the free throw line. SLU played dogged defense throughout the game, giving the Bonnies very few clean looks and playing tough, physical D on each of the five Bona starters, wearing them down over the course of a brutally hard-fought game.

Having dispatched SBU and giving Lofton, Adaway, Holmes, Welch and Osunniyi a much-needed extended rest (the Bonnies’ bench, per usual, saw only 10 minutes total), the Billikens now will face top-seeded Davidson tomorrow at noon CT/1pm ET. In the only game this season between SLU and Davidson, the Wildcats boatraced the Billikens at the Belk, 79-58.

If the Billikens want revenge, they are going to need to find ways to score outside of Jimerson and Okoro. There’s almost no chance that SLU can hold Davidson’s high-powered offense to 56 points as they did to Bona today, but they can hope to hold Davidson to less than 58% from deep, which is what the Wildcats shot in the first matchup. SLU needs to take care of the ball much better than they did today, but Yuri Collins needs to continue to be aggressive in looking for his shot. He was much more aggressive in the second half today, and had a number of key buckets, scoring 11 points to go along with his 9 assists and 7 rebounds. SLU will likely need offensive contributions from Jordan Nesbitt and Fred Thatch as well.

Frankly though, this game will be won on the defensive end. Davidson is the most explosive offense in the league, with beautiful ball movement, wondrous cuts, and elite shooters in Hyungjung Lee, Foster Loyer and Mike Jones, in addition to conference POY Luka Brajkovic. SLU needs to take advantage of its athleticism advantage against the Wildcats on defense, and then keep the ball moving and execute on the offensive end.

The Billikens have a lot of momentum going into their third game in three days, but Davidson is a very formidable opponent. Can the Billikens pull off yet another gritty victory in DC? We’ll find out.

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...