St. Louis, Mo. – The Saint Louis University Billikens men's basketball team continues to cruise towards the Christmas holiday. Wednesday night's emphatic 72-45 victory over Eastern Illinois marked the fourth straight for SLU.
It ran out of the gates quickly at Chaifetz Arena to the tune of five-for-six from the floor in creating a 12-3 advantage with 15:38 remaining against the visiting Panthers. Strong early play from senior forward Cory Remekun propelled the Billikens to 60 percent shooting in developing a 37-20 halftime lead.
The night was more than about basketball, however. Former Billikens star Larry Hughes received the inaugural Donate Life Champion award at halftime with current EIU coach and former SLU assistant Jay Spoonhour looking on. Hughes' brother Justin received a heart transplant at age 11 and lived nine more years. Spoonhour's father, Charlie, was a longtime coach for the Billikens and has his own connections to organ donation.
Spoonhour mentioned postgame that having his kids watch the halftime presentation was far more important than another speech.
Although the game was originally agreed upon because the late Rick Majerus convinced Spoonhour to honor his father and do something for organ donorship, Wednesday night's game was simply about EIU being overmatched.
EIU's head man noted in the press conference that his team wasn't ready to play and that he'd love to come to Chaifetz and do it again, but he wants to do it with a team that's going to be competitive.
Perhaps the most interesting piece of the night for some fans was one important onlooker in the stands. With the hot topic of the week being conference realignment and Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade in attendance, the Bills didn't let off the gas in the final 20 minutes and disappoint. Rather, aided by torching the three-point line, SLU found time for nine players to find their ways into the scorebook en route to shooting 57.5 percent from the field, its highest of the season.
Stud freshman Keith Carter, seeing his first action since Nov. 14, added six points for the Billikens and showed a lot of composure playing the point.
A month-long homestand continues with a revenge game against Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Dec. 22. The Billikens lost at LMU last season after being ranked in the AP Top 25.