St. Louis University: CBE Wrap-Up and Southern Illinois Game Preview

Matthew MeltonContributor IIINovember 23, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 19:  Jordair Jett #5 of the Saint Louis Billikens is congratulated by Cody Ellis #24 after scoring during the CBE Hall of Fame Classic against the Texas A&M Aggies at Sprint Center on November 19, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

St. Louis University (2-2) hosts Southern Illinois University (Carbondale) in a 7:00 p.m. (CT) tipoff at Chafeitz Arena on Saturday night.

The Billikens return home on the heels of runner-up finish in CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City earlier this week.

SLU impressively shut down Texas A&M Monday night in a 21-point victory that was never really in doubt. The Billikens held a nine-point halftime lead, and then proceeded to blow out the Aggies in the second half.

SLU shot 67 percent from the field in the second half and five Billikens scored in double figures, led by Dwayne Evans, who matched his career high with 21 points.

The Billikens took the floor the following night against the highly talented and nationally-ranked Kansas squad. Things did not go as well for the Billikens as they lost 73-59.

Kansas raced out to a 14-point lead at halftime, and the Billikens had no answer for the Jayhawks big man, Jeff Withey, who finished with 25 points and seven blocks.

SLU is dealing with many injuries on the homefront. Freshman guard Keith Carter did not play in Kansas City, as he is still dealing with a leg injury suffered against Santa Clara two weeks ago.

Junoir forward Grandy Glaze suffered a dislocated shoulder in his one minute of play against Texas A&M and his return date is unknown.

Most importantly, junior guard Jordair Jett injured his groin midway through the Kansas game. Jett did return to play, albeit briefly, and his status is unclear heading into Saturday's contest.

Without Carter, Jett and Kwamain Mitchell, who is still eyeing a late-December return to the team from a broken foot, the Billikens have only two guards available on the roster, Mike McCall and Jake Barnett.

Barnett was originally slotted as the fifth guard in the rotation at the start of the season. What was once a position of great depth has now become a serious problem.

Even if Jett returns against Southern Illinois, the team cannot legitimately expect he and McCall to play 35 minutes (or more) on a nightly basis.

On the bright side, Cory Remekun was very impressive in his season debut in Kansas City. Remekun stepped right into some heavy minutes within the starting rotation. In the two CBE Classic games, he scored 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting and blocked four shots.

Dwayne Evans was named to the All-Tournament Team as he put together a 29-point, 15-rebound effort throughout the Classic's two games.

McCall and Cody Ellis both had solid games as well, scoring 26 and 29 points, respectively, in the two games.

The Billikens can expect to see a tough Southern Illinois (3-0) squad on Saturday night.

The Salukis made a change on the sidelines by bringing in long-time Missouri State head coach Barry Hinson to coach the Salukis after last season's disasterous 8-23 effort.

The Salukis are led by senior guard Jeff Early, who is off to an incredible start to the season. Early (6'1", 187 pounds) is averaging nearly a double-double (20.7 points, 9.7 rebounds) as he has become the Salukis top offensive threat.

Early has so far admirably filled the role of do-it-all-man Mamadou Seck, who graduated last year after leading the Salukis in points and rebounds per game (13.3 and 7.9, respectively).

The Billikens will also have to account for junior guard Desmar Jackson and sophomore forward Dantiel Daniels. Jackson and Daniels were both voted to the Missouri Valley's Preseason All-Conference Fourth Team.

Daniels (6'5", 230 pounds) and Jackson (6'5", 173 pounds) will both provide matchup problems for the Billikens. Jackson is averaging 11 points and 6.3 rebounds to start the season. He has already tallied eight steals through the first three games.

Daniels, a graduate from Wentzville High (Mo.) just outside St. Louis, has been slow to join the Salukis rotation this season, as he is averaging only 15 minutes per game.

However, as Daniels did last season as a freshman, he leads the team in blocks, and will surely be looking to make an impact on his home city's court.

The Salukis are coming off an intense 71-55 victory over SIU-Edwardsville on Tuesday night. An on-court scuffle under the SIUE basket led to the ejection of seven players.

Not much is expected of the Salukis this season as they continue to rebuild. They were picked by one college basketball site to finish seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference. In another, they were picked to finish last.

No NCAA tournament appearances appear to be on the horizon. And certainly the days of Sweet 16 runs (2002, 2007) are distant memories.

The Billikens should be able to get above .500 again and hopefully get their season back on track before they head west to face a highly regarded Washington squad in Seattle on Wednesday.