NCAA Tournament: Billikens defeat Memphis, face Michigan State Sunday

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SLU defensive defeats Memphis 61-54

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Is a Billiken scarier than a Tiger? No, but the No. 9 Saint Louis Billikens muzzled the No. 8 Memphis Tigers in the second round of the NCAA tournament, 61-54. Kwamain Mitchell led the way for the Billikens with 22 points shooting four of seven from three point range. Brian Conklin has 16 points with 13 points coming in the second half. No other Billikens scored in double-figures.

“We don’t like to slow it down. We tried to make sure that we limit fastbreak baskets and put defensive as a priority,” Head Coach Rick Majerus said.

The Bills started the scoring with a Dwyane Evans dunk, but it was Memphis who jumped out to the early 7-4 lead. The game remained within three the rest of the first half. The first half was a back and forth affair. The Billikens were down three with seconds left in when Mitchell pull up and shot a desperation three that went in and close the half with the game tied at 23-23. The Bills shot 38.5% in the first half, but the Tigers had 9 points off of turnovers. The Bills had 9 uncharacteristic turnovers in the first half.

The Bills then started off very slow in the second. Memphis went on a 9-0 run to extend their lead to 33-27. The Bills were down by 8 points with 11:51 left in the second half. The Bills then became to claw their way back from the deficit and regained the lead on a Mitchell three.  After that, the Tigers began to panic, the team struggled to keep their composure.

Memphis cut the lead, but with 3:02 left in the second half, Memphis’ Tarik Black fouled out leaving shut the door on Memphis’ attempted comeback. Memphis only made two of their three point attempts and Saint Louis got 11 fastbreak points beating Memphis at one of their strengths as a team.

“Defense is something we pride ourselves on, and that leads to our offensive,” Evans said.

The Billikens will play Michigan State in the three round of the NCAA tournament. Game time is set for 30 minutes after the Georgetown North Carolina State game around 2 p.m. central time.