A 14-point second half lead reduced to a deficit in a matter of minutes. Sadly, this is the story of the 2021-22 Saint Louis Billikens. Or at least it has been. Of their 10 losses, half have come in games in which the Bills held a double-digit lead. But instead of an 11th loss, SLU won its 20th game, the 3rd time under Coach Ford. Is it because they’ve learned from past mistakes? Is it because Rhode Island is in a downward spiral and sitting in 11th in the conference? Or maybe it’s the magic of March basketball? Regardless, Saint Louis showed rare focus, perseverance, and composure on a Wednesday night over 1,000 miles from Chaifetz Arena.
A couple takeaways from the game and looking ahead to this weekend:
Fred Thatch has arrived.
While the team’s performance the last few weeks has burst the Billikens’ bubble, it has absolutely been in spite of the Sikeston native. Thatch Jr. has been arguably the best Billiken in that stretch. Just look at his per game numbers of late!
Some fun with small sample size, Fred Thatch Jr. last 8 games:
3PT: 57.9% (‼️‼️‼️)
— West Pine Bills (@WestPineBills) March 3, 2022
(S/o @WestPineBills for crunching the numbers) If SLU is to make a run in DC, look for Fred to play the role of Tramaine Isabell circa 2019.
Gibson Jimerson may have snapped his slump.
In the 2-4 stretch preceding the URI game, the typically sharpshooting Jimerson was laboring. Scoring single digits in 3 of the losses with a .417/.286/.538 shooting line, it’s been tough to watch his recent struggles. At the Ryan Center, the redshirt freshman looked reborn, scoring 22 points on 53% shooting, including a 5/9 showing from behind the arc. He looked more confident in his lightning quick release and his pump fakes showed purpose. Saturday’s date with a vicious VCU defense will be the ultimate litmus test for the Richmond native.
Double bye still in play?
While the sky has been falling in Saint Louis for the past month, Saturday’s showdown with VCU still could have postseason consequences. The calculus on SLU’s final A10 standing is rather simple. St. Bonaventure plays Richmond on Friday. If the Bonnies win, then SLU is locked in as the 5 seed and will have a single bye. If St. Bonaventure loses, then a SLU win against a blisteringly hot VCU team would put them in 4th place with the highly coveted double bye. The only wrinkle in this equation is a postponed game between Bonaventure and George Washington. From what I’ve gathered, the A10 doesn’t intend on rescheduling, but with a double bye on the line in this specific scenario, nothing is for certain. All said, SLU may well have something to play for beyond pride and confidence Saturday. If you’re in St. Louis, come out to Chaifetz 3:00 PM Saturday to celebrate Javonte Perkins, Brandon Courtney, Deandre Jones and Martin Linssen on Senior Night!
Photo Courtesy of Audacy.com