Men battle for 2-4 record

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Men battle for 2-4 record

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Over the holiday break, men’s basketball saw a lot of action, playing Eastern Illinois University, BYU, Alabama and Samford. The Bills went 1-3 in this set of games.

The Billikens first faced Eastern Illinois University at Chaifetz on Nov. 17, winning 74-69. This was the second win in a row for the Billikens. EIU gained a 19-13 lead early in the first half from an 8-0 run, but SLU fought back with an 11-0 run of their own to go up by five points with 8:25 to go in the first half. The Panthers rallied back with an 11-0 run and a last-second tip-in to take a 44-33 lead to the locker room. The Billikens rallied back in the second half, starting off with a 15-0 run, quickly erasing the halftime deficit and more. It was all SLU until EIU drained a 3-pointer with 8:39 left to tie the score at 57-57. The Panthers briefly took a two-point lead, but junior guard Davell Roby drilled a 3-pointer to put the Bills back on top. Senior guard Mike Crawford scored off a fast-break to pad the lead. EIU kept the game close, but the Billikens would hold on for the win.

Senior forward Reggie Agbeko and Roby led the scoring for SLU with 18 points each. Freshman forward Elliott Welmer scored 15 points, and sophomore guard Jermaine Bishop tallied 14 along with a career-high eight assists.

After the win over EIU, the Billikens traveled to the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas for the Men Who Speak Up Main Event. On Monday, Nov. 21, the Billikens first faced BYU, a 92-62 loss. The Billikens fell behind 11-0 early in the game, but bounced back with 12:40 left in the first half. A 7-0 run pulled the Billikens within three of the lead. BYU went up by 10 with four minutes left in the half, but the Billikens clawed back again, pulling within four on a 3-pointer by Crawford. A 3-pointer by freshman forward Jalen Johnson late in the first half helped the Bills pull within seven at the half. The Billikens utilized a 10-0 run to pull within five with 12:12 left in the game. However, with the Billikens in foul trouble, BYU utilized runs of 19-1 and 22-4 to take the victory.

Bishop scored a game- and career-high 27 points, shooting 11-for-23 from the field, and 4-for-9 from 3-point range. Agbeko had 10 rebounds. Crawford and freshman Zeke Moore had nine points each.

In the second game at the MGM Garden Arena, played on Wednesday, Nov. 23, the Billikens fell to Alabama, 62-57. The Billikens carried a 54-45 lead with 5:25 left to play, but committed six turnovers while Alabama simultaneously got hot at 3-point range, managing to hit four 3-pointers to rally for the victory. Roby led the way in scoring with 15 points. Agbeko posted a double-double, scoring 10 points with 10 rebounds.

The Billikens came back home to play Samford this past Tuesday. The game was a nail-biter down to the final buzzer, but the Billikens lost 68-64. Early on, the Billikens won the tip and made the first basket, but Samford went on 12-4 and 18-4 runs to otherwise dominate the first half. The Bills headed to the locker room down 39-28. In the middle of the second half, the Billikens came to life, going on a 14-6 run to come within two points of tying. Another 7-4 run late in the half brought the Bills within one point of tying. Samford and SLU kept the game close, but the Billikens were unable to catch up as Samford hit two free throws with seconds left to take the game. Defensively, the Billikens managed to keep Samford from scoring for a 4-minute period in the first half, forced 9 turnovers and managed to force Samford to commit a 10-second violation. Crawford scored 16 points, pulled down six rebounds and picked up five assists. Bishop scored 15 points, picking up two rebounds and two assists. Welmer scored 10 and pulled down nine rebounds.