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Billikens Top Memphis, 90-84

by Brian Kunderman

Yuri Collins scored a game- and season-high 22 points, including 15 in the second half, and Saint Louis withstood a furious late-game rally by Memphis to post a 90-84 victory over the Tigers Tuesday night at Chaifetz Arena.

The Billikens also got 18 points (4-of-7 3-pointers) from Gibson Jimerson and a season-high 14 points (6-of-8 FG) from Javon Pickett as they moved to 3-0 on the season. SLU is averaging 88 points and has scored 90 or more points twice already.

Collins’ scoring total included a 12-of-14 effort from the foul line as he set career highs for makes and attempts. He also collected a game-high nine assists while committing only two turnovers.

Francis Okoro also narrowly missed a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds – his third double-digit total in as many games this season – and scoring nine points. Okoro added a season- and game-high three blocks.

The Bills outscored Memphis 27-19 from the foul line (27-of-36) and shot 47 percent from the floor to 40 percent for the Tigers.

Trailing by four at intermission, Memphis scored the first bucket of the second half and had several chances to tie or take the lead but failed. Saint Louis took advantage with a 7-0 run that gave the Billikens a 56-47 lead with 16:43 to play.

Memphis assembled a 7-1 run of its own to narrow the gap to 57-54 at the 14:56 mark, but SLU responded in a big way. The Billikens used a 17-5 surge, with scoring from five different players, to claim their largest lead of the night, 74-59, with 8:24 to go.

The margin remained in double figures and stood at 14 points, 84-70, with 3:56 remaining. A 14-2 Memphis outburst trimmed the Saint Louis lead to 86-84 with 42 seconds left.

But after a Billiken free throw bumped the lead to three, the defense held, and three more from the stripe sealed SLU’s sixth consecutive 3-0 start.

Early leads of 1-0 and 3-0 were the only advantages Memphis held in the game. Following a 6-6 tie, Saint Louis went on a 10-0 run, featuring scoring from five different players, to lead 16-6 with 12:49 left.

The margin increased to 12 points on two occasions, and it was 26-16 with just under seven minutes remaining when Memphis began chipping away.

The Tigers pulled to within three points six different times before two Alex Lomax free throws with eight seconds to play narrowed SLU’s lead to 45-43. Pickett grabbed a Billiken miss and scored at the buzzer for a 47-43 halftime lead.

The Billikens now head to Uncasville, Conn., for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. SLU takes on Maryland Saturday, Nov. 19, at noon Central and will face either Miami (Fla.) or Providence the following day at either noon or 2:30 p.m. Central.

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