Cassity Leads Saint Louis In Victory

In his first 32 games at Saint Louis University, sophomore guard Kyle Cassity struggled to make shots from anywhere on the court. The swingman showed a nice-looking shot with good form but was not getting the desired results.

After a two-of-eight shooting performance against Nebraska last week, including just one of six from beyond the 3-point arc, Cassity's career statistics with the Billikens over his 32 games played were not pretty.

The Pinckneyville (Ill.) High School product made just 25.9 percent from the field (21 of 81) and had converted just 22 percent from 3-point range (11 of 50).

"Apparently they haven't been falling, of course, but I've been taking them," Cassity said after the Nebraska victory. "They feel good. They look good. They just don't go in. It felt good to hit one. Of course I hit a few free throws and that felt good too."

But the sophomore swingman had a breakthrough performance against Kennesaw State on Sunday afternoon. Cassity scored a career-high 18 points on seven-of-nine shooting, including four of five on 3-point attempts, and helped lead Saint Louis to a 76-66 non-conference victory at Chaifetz Arena and improve to 3-0 on the season.

"I didn't do anything different," Cassity told reporters after the game. "It's basically all the same. Now it goes in."

SLU coach Rick Majerus, who beat out Michigan and Southern Illinois in a recruiting battle for Cassity, gave the guard plenty of minutes as a freshman (16.9 per game, with four starts) and frequently spoke about Cassity's need to be more aggressive with his shot on the offensive end.

That appeared to pay off against Kennesaw State (2-1).

"Confidence is part of it," SLU coach Rick Majerus told reporters following Sunday's game. "He's got a good stroke. I think he's looking for it more. He's got to shoot. ... He can be a fantastic shooter. He needs reps, he needs confidence, he needs to look for his shot, probably in the inverse order of what I said."

With three returning starters entering this season in Kwamain Mitchell, Brian Conklin and Willie Reed, SLU needed two perimeter players to step up to replace at least some of the production lost when Kevin Lisch and Tommie Liddell finished their Billiken careers a year ago.

So far this season, the two guys who are going to get that opportunity are Cassity and freshman guard Christian Salecich. And so far this season, the Illinois native and the Australian have not disappointed.

Salecich scored 15 points on Sunday, including three 3-pointers, and added six assists and four rebounds in 34 minutes. The points, assists and rebounds were all career-bests for the guard at SLU, in three games of course, while the 3-pointers and minutes tied his season highs.

After three games, and three victories, both Cassity and Salecich have done their part to boost the Billikens.

Cassity is averaging 10.3 points per game, with Salecich at 10 points per contest. Both have 10 assists, which ties them with Mitchell for the team lead, and both have a team-best six 3-pointers made. Both are averaging more than 30 minutes played per game.

SLU's victory over Kennesaw State, which was part of the Chicago Invitational Challenge, featured several highlights for the home team.

Mitchell, who scored 20 points in the win over Nebraska, had seven points, six assists and three steals in 34 minutes against Kennesaw State. Reed nine points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Conklin scored 11 points.

Redshirt freshman Femi John came off the bench to score seven points. Freshman guard Justin Jordan scored six points on two 3-pointers and in his first three games as a Billiken has made five of eight 3-point attempts (62.5 percent) and is averaging six points per game.

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