Liddell Sparks Comeback Victory

ST. LOUIS — Many words have already been written this season about the relationship between new Saint Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus and his standout junior guard Tommie Liddell III.

On Saturday night, a week after Majerus held Liddell out of the first half in the Furman game for being late for a pre-game shootaround, there appeared to be a breakthrough.

Liddell scored a season-high 20 points as Saint Louis overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat Pacific 63-54 at Scottrade Center.

"Before this game we were in a meeting and coach told me he wanted to be more aggressive," Liddell said. "I just wanted to be more aggressive."

A junior guard, Liddell averaged a team-best 15.4 points per game last season, but entered Saturday's contest averaging 10 points per game and found himself in the new coach's doghouse for his performance on defense.


Bryce Husak (Jeff Roberson/AP)
"Tommie played a good game defensively," Majerus said. "Hopefully he can move the arrow to very good or we'll keep moving the arrow up. He made a statement, a small statement, but at least he made an effort."

Liddell also made eight of 11 shots from the field, including two 3-pointers, in a team-high 37 minutes. He fueled the second half comeback with two long jumpers and a 3-pointer in the first six minutes of the second half.

Majerus "told me he wants me to be aggressive and take good shots," Liddell said. "When I get separation, he allows me to shoot the shot. Also in transition. We're doing more running. In transition he says if we're wide open, he wants us to shoot it. That just gives me more confidence that he believes in me."

Junior guard Kevin Lisch added 11 points, freshmen guard Paul Eckerle had 10 and senior center Bryce Husak had a career-high eight rebounds for Saint Louis (5-2), which won its 10th consecutive home game after losing at Missouri State 60-56 on Wednesday.

"Tommie played a great game today and really carried us," Lisch said.

The Billikens made just 40.9 percent of its shot attempts in the first half, including one of seven 3-point attempts, and had 13 turnovers. In the second half, Saint Louis shot 65 percent, including five of nine 3-pointers, and turned the ball over seven times.

"We didn't panic there," Lisch said of the halftime deficit. "We just came out and played and just kept playing tough there in the second half. We got down a little in the first half, but we're not gonna quit. We seem to always have a better second half for some reason."

Steffan Johnson scored 13 points, five below his season average, and Chad Troyer had 12 to lead Pacific (4-2).

The Tigers came into the game averaging 81 points per contest.

Pacific shot 46.4 percent in the first half and 34.8 percent in the second half. The Tigers made three of 12 3-point attempts and nine of 17 free throw attempts in the game.

Saint Louis led by as many as five points in the first half, with 7:08 left in the half. But Pacific closed out the half with an 18-6 run, including scoring the final seven points, and took a 30-23 lead into halftime.

The Billikens will next play at Kent State on Wednesday.

BROWN PRACTICES

Senior guard Danny Brown practiced on Friday for the first time after having knee surgery in April and is on the way back to seeing action again soon.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Houston, Brown averaged 4.8 points per game as a freshman, 4.7 per game as a sophomore and 4.8 again as a junior. When healthy, Brown will give SLU an experienced guard off the bench who can spell Liddell, Lisch, Dwayne Polk and Eckerle.

"I'm excited if he can give us any kind of a lift at all," Majerus said. "It looks like he might be able to hit a jump shot. I think he's got a good competitive streak in him. … Looking at what he needs to be able to do and actually being out there and being able to do it are two different deals, but we have to be able to incorporate him."


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