Skip to content

Saint Louis beats Butler for third time, looks like Final Four contender in the process

Mar 16, 2013, 5:37 PM EDT

Saint Louis Butler AP

NEW YORK — After their 72-55 win over Charlotte on Friday, I explained why the Saint Louis Billikens have the look and feel of a team that can make the Final Four.

The Billikens’ 67-56 win over the Butler Bulldogs on Saturday in the Atlantic 10 semifinals only reinforced my beliefs.

Butler has wins this season over the likes of Indiana, Gonzaga and North Carolina. Now consider this: Saint Louis beat Butler not once, not twice, but three times.

Saint Louis has a deep, experience-laden roster. They have guys who excel in a multitude of different areas. They are poised and do not make mistakes. Their season has been driven by and motivated by extenuating circumstances out of their control.

Sure, they will struggle against elite athleticism and physical frontcourts, but that appears to be their only real weaknesses.

“I think St. Louis is one of the best teams in the country,” said Butler coach Brad Stevens prior to the contest. “I don’t care where they’re ranked or where they’ll be seeded. Somebody who hasn’t played against them next week, they’re going to say uh‑oh.”

Stevens offered even more praise for the top-seed following his team’s tough loss.

“I’ve said all year to the people who have listened, and some that don’t, how good they are. They are a legitimate contender to win the whole thing.”

That is high praise from a coach who went to back-to-back National Championship games within his first five seasons as a Division I head coach.

Saint Louis will be a difficult match-up for teams who have not faced them before. They don’t make mistakes, play extremely physical, and run simple yet effective sets designed to control the flow of the game.

“Sometimes, when you don’t know you’re doing, if you don’t make mistakes and don’t turn the ball over, the opponent won’t know what we’re doing either.” Saint Louis head coach Jim Crews quipped following his team’s 14th win in their past 15 games.

Dwayne Evans led the Billikens in scoring for the second consecutive game, finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals.

Butler’s Roosevelt Jones spent much of the game guarding Evans. “He’s probably the most physical player that I have ever played against in my life. I thought that he should have been Player of the Year in the conference.”

But Evans was not the Billikens’ only source of offense. Saint Louis got 13 points from Cody Ellis and nine from both Mike McCall Jr. and Jordair Jett.

Brad Stevens continued in his praise of the Billikens.”The thing I go back to, is Cody Ellis and Jordair Jett are two of their best players. They’re not in the starting lineup. Their starting lineup is really good. So they have depth. They have physicality. They have toughness”

The Billikens trailed by as many as six points in the first half, but took the lead heading into the break on a buzzer-beating lay-up from Rob Loe. The experienced Billikens never trailed in the final 20 minutes.

“We’ve got eight guys that are juniors or seniors, and they’ve invested a lot into the program and invested in each other”, said Crews.

It would be fitting for Saint Louis to make a Final Four run with both VCU and Butler in the Atlantic 10 for the first time. But unlike both VCU and Butler’s Final Four appearances, Saint Louis’ would not come as a surprise.

You can contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

Latest Posts
  1. Throwback Thursday: A wild college hoops comeback (VIDEO)

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:34 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Five points down, 2.8 seconds left, and victorious?

  2. Louisville’s Terry Rozier is ready for his bigger role this season

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:34 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Rozier will be the most important player for Louisville this season.

  3. Florida guard continues to work towards full recovery from leg injury

    Aug 20, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

    Southern v Florida Getty Images

    Redshirting helped Eli Carter as he looks to recover from a broken leg suffered in 2013, but he still isn’t at the level he was prior to the injury.

  4. Reports: Former Memphis center to enroll at Tennessee

    Aug 20, 2014, 9:59 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    According to reports Dominic Woodson will be enrolling at Tennessee in time for the start of classes Thursday.

  5. Florida State lands its first 2015 verbal commitment

    Aug 20, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT

    D1Circuit/Nike Basketball D1Circuit/Nike Basketball

    Four-star shooting guard Terance Mann picked Florida State over Arizona State, Boston College, Indiana, Marquette and Rhode Island.

  6. Assigned Reading: The rise and fall of Curtis Malone

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    dc-assault.org dc-assault.org

    Curtis Malone is serving a 100-month sentence after pleading guilty to being a part of a drug ring that brought in $80,000 in profits per month.

  7. Oregon State freshman hospitalized after collapsing during workout Tuesday

    Aug 20, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT

    Jesse Skoubo/Corvallis Gazette-Times Jesse Skoubo/Corvallis Gazette-Times

    A report stated that a blood clot in Chai Baker’s leg may have resulted in his collapsing during a workout on Tuesday.

  8. Report: Former UNLV guard transfers to UT Martin

    Aug 20, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

    Deville Smith, Skylar Spencer AP

    Deville Smith averaged 9.7 points and 2.7 assists in 32 games last season, making 18 starts.

  9. Mixtape for Duke-bound guard Luke Kennard (VIDEO)

    Aug 20, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    Luke Kennard AP

    Kennard is the No. 19 recruit in the Rivals top 150.

  10. New addition to Michigan State program granted immediate eligibility

    Aug 20, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Bryn Forbes, Andrew Harrison AP

    Bryn Forbes averaged 15.6 points per game last season, shooting 43.4% from the field and 42.4% from three-point range.

  11. Expectations have changed for Nebraska after surprise run to 2014 NCAA tournament

    Aug 20, 2014, 3:09 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    How can Nebraska build on their surprising, successful 2013-2014 season?

  12. Report: College star won’t suit up for Dominican Republic in World Cup

    Aug 20, 2014, 2:01 PM EDT

    Karl Towns AP

    Kentucky made the decision not to allow one of their stars to head to Spain for two weeks while they’re supposed to be in class.

  13. Nebraska hires new graduate manager, trolls Kansas in the process?

    Aug 20, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Think Jayhawk fans remember the name Ali Farokhmanesh?

  14. Memphis lands a key transfer to boost their back court experience

    Aug 20, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT

    SEC Basketball Tournament: Arkansas v Vanderbilt Getty Images

    The Tigers have zero minutes of experience in their back court.

  15. Indiana lands a final piece in their 2014 recruiting class

    Aug 20, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    Tom Crean AP

    Indiana now has six commitments in the Class of 2014.

  16. Oakland head coach Greg Kampe with a unique #icebucketchallenge (VIDEO)

    Aug 20, 2014, 10:24 AM EDT

    Greg Kampe AP

    Kampe over came his fear of heights but still got hit with ice water.

  17. The Ray Kasongo saga takes another turn on Wednesday

    Aug 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    kasongo

    Ray Kasongo was denied admission from Oregon on July 30, reopening his recruitment.