Bills lose two while away

When the men’s basketball team boarded its plane heading east on Friday, Feb. 13, the Bills knew they would not have an easy week ahead of them. On the docket for their next two games: Rhode Island and VCU, two of the four teams tied for the Atlantic 10 lead going into the weekend.

The Billikens faced their first opponent, Rhode Island, on Feb. 14. SLU lost to Rhode Island, 81-68, in a game where SLU’s freshmen dominated the team’s performance. Continuing the recent norm, turnovers also played a large role in the game. Freshman guard Miles Reynolds scored a career-high 21 points, leading the Bills. Reynolds was 4-of-5 from the field and 13-of-15 from the foul-line. In his previous career-high scoring performance, against North Carolina A&T on Nov. 25, Reynolds was 14-of-18 from the line.

Davell Roby, another freshman guard, posted a stat in four of the five major categories. Roby was second on the team in points with 15 and he also added five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Roby shot 100 percent from the foul line, going 10-of-10 on the night, the best performance by a Billiken since the 2002-03 season.

Freshman forward Milik Yarbrough shot 6-of-9 from the field, adding 14 points.

Straying from the norm in this road contest was the starting lineup. The starters for the evening were Roby, Yarbrough, freshman guard Marcus Bartley, senior center John Manning and sophomore guard Mike Crawford.

Junior guard Ash Yarbrough, a Billiken usually in the starting lineup was left out of the starting five, and from scoring in the game, in his seven minutes on the floor. Senior guard Austin McBroom, a preseason favorite to lead the team, only saw one minute of court time. In contrast, Roby and Yarbrough sat out just four and six minutes respectively. Half of SLU’s 68 points came from its bench.

Interestingly, on the night, SLU shot a higher percentage from the field than the Rams, 51.4 percent compared to Rhode Island’s 47.1. However, SLU turned the ball over 22 times, up from the 19 giveaways in each of the previous two games.

Following the loss at Rhode Island, SLU stayed east to play its second opponent nicknamed the Rams for the week, No. 25 VCU. The teams squared off on Feb. 17, and the final outcome favored VCU, 74-54. Following his career performance, Reynolds found himself in the starting lineup for the first time this season. The start means that every Billiken with a scholarship has started a game this season. Joining Reynolds as starters were Manning, Roby, Yarbrough and Yacoubou.

While the Billikens limited their turnovers to 14, down eight from the previous game, a poor shooting performance lingered all evening; SLU shot 37.8 percent from the floor on the game. Bartley led the team in shooting percentage, going 3-of-4 from the field, 3-of-3 from behind the arc, adding nine points, all in the second half. Yarbrough led all scorers with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He also led the team in rebounds, snagging five. Yacoubou was stopped on the floor, going 0-of-8 shooting, but he still added two points and four rebounds, second on the team. VCU outrebounded SLU 38-29 on the evening, and shot 46.3 percent from the floor.

   With the two road losses, SLU’s record drops to 10-16 on the year and 2-11 in the A-10, good enough for last place in the conference.

   VCU’s Treveon Graham, who led the Rams in points when the teams met previously at Chaifetz Arena, on Jan. 23, in the 63-61 VCU win, led the team again with 16 points. Despite having a 20-6 record, VCU has dropped three of its last six games. The six games come after Rams senior guard Briante Weber tore his ACL, ending his career at VCU. Weber was a four-year player and started every game last season for VCU at point guard. He currently ranks third all-time in the NCAA in steals.

   The Billikens return home to play the La Salle Explorers on Feb. 22, at 1:30 p.m. La Salle, who is middle of the pack in the A-10 at 7-6, is 15-11 overall going into the game.

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