Coming into Thursday afternoon's game between Saint Louis and New Mexico State, all the talk was about the Aggies' 7-foot-5 big man Sim Bhullar. Instead, Billikens' forward 6-foot-6 Dwayne Evans continued his torrid two-month stretch, scoring 24 points as No. 4 SLU rolled past NMSU 64-44.
As this writer made mention in the preview, the SLU big men would need to find alternative ways to score against the behemoth Bhullar. Evans did just that, with spins, pump fakes, and mid-range jump shots. Senior Cory Remekun chipped in with 11 points, using several athletic moves to create space inside in the paint.
Additionally, NMSU's guards, who were iffy coming in, struggled mightily to control the tempo and possess the ball. The Billikens forced 16 turnovers and held the Aggies to 28 percent from the field.
From the get-go, SLU used a flurry of defensive stops to propel its offense in growing a 20-8 lead.
A brief letdown saw the Billikens' deficit cut to 40-33 before an 8-0 run midway through the second half put SLU in cruise control for the rest of the game.
Junior forward Cody Ellis built on his impressive game against VCU by scoring 12 points and hitting key three-pointers as SLU burst out ahead of the undermanned Aggies.
Behind the arc was unkind to the Aggies once again today, as it has been all season. They were just 2-for-14 and couldn't seem to get any shot to fall.
The lone excitement for the No. 13-seed came on several high-flying dunks from 6-foot-8 Bandja Sy.
The 20-point margin was SLU's largest in program history during the NCAA Tournament.