Mitchell Leads Saint Louis To Victory

ST. LOUIS — The Saint Louis University basketball team got some big news on Tuesday morning when the squad learned that Australian forward recruit Cody Ellis would be cleared by the NCAA and be eligible this season. Then the Billikens beat visiting Missouri-Kansas City behind sophomore guard Kwamain Mitchell's career-high 33 points.

Mitchell missed the previous game against Missouri State after getting poked in the eye against Belmont and having surgery. Though his left eye was still a little blurry on Tuesday night, the point guard did whatever he had to do to lift his team to a 61-54 victory over the upset-minded Kangaroos at Chaifetz Arena.

"It was painful for me to come to practice and watch guys practice from the sidelines," Mitchell said. "… Not being out there was hurting me. I'm glad I'm back. I'm glad we came out with the win and I'm just going to have a great Christmas."

Mitchell, who scored his 33 points on 11-of-18 shooting, became the first Billikens player to score 30 or more points since Justin Love scored 31 in 1999. Mitchell's career high was the most since Larry Hughes scored 37 against Alabama-Birmingham in 1998.

"He's a great competitor," SLU coach Rick Majerus said. "He had that eye surgery and he comes over to practice. I was trying to get him out of practice and in bed. … He's a real nice kid. He likes to play. Basketball means a lot to him."

"I'm still a little blurry in my left eye," Mitchell said. "I got cleared Monday. They said that it would be blurry for five or six days after surgery and I had surgery on Friday. It's kind of a little blurry, but I didn't let it affect me."

Mitchell was the lone Billikens player in double figures as Saint Louis improved to 8-4 overall and 8-1 in home games this season. Freshman guards Christian Salecich and Justin Jordan added eight points apiece on a combined 10 of 11 from the free throw line.

The Billikens struggled to shoot the ball. SLU made 46.3 percent from the field (19 of 41), 16.7 percent from 3-point range (two of 12) and 56.8 percent from the free throw line (21 of 37).

Mitchell sparked a 12-0 run in the second half that turned a 41-36 deficit into a lead that the Billikens would not relinquish. He helped Saint Louis earn a much-needed victory heading into a break for the holidays.

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