"They hustled, they played hard," SLU coach Rick Majerus said. "We had two good days of practice. I thought everyone contributed. Guys are learning to give a better effort. What I liked is that they didn't play the score or the opponent down the stretch — they played against their ability to get better and that shows some degree of maturation."
Saint Louis, which is now 25-4 at Chaifetz Arena, improved to 12-6 overall and 3-1 in A-10 play. Fordham fell to 2-15 overall and 0-5 in league play.
"In my opinion, from the last game at Charlotte, I still had kind of that sting in me," Mitchell said. "I came out and played right out of the game. Our problem is we sometimes come out kind of loose."
"The last two games were really good games," sophomore guard Kyle Cassity said. "To come off the Charlotte game with that sting really helped us start off well because we really didn't start off well at all at Charlotte. I think we were down 9-2 or maybe 9-0. It feels good to come out and take care of business."
The Billikens finished with four players in double figures.
Sophomore forward Brian Conklin came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points. Ellis, the freshman from Australia who made his first career start, had 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and a game-high nine rebounds.
Mitchell, the Billikens' sophomore point guard, added 13 points and five assists in 20 minutes. Reed, a sophomore forward, had 10 points in 17 minutes. Smith, another freshman who was also making his first career start, finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
"Jon is a delight," Majerus said. "He loves ball. He comes early. He has an unbelievable bounce to his step. He improves the way you really make improvements in life: very small incremental improvements but almost on a daily basis. He's got athletic ability."
SLU led 42-24 at halftime and outscored the Rams 33-24 in the second half, which included a late stretch of playing five freshmen together on the floor.
"I thought we played well tonight," Majerus said. "We hit some shots. Our issue is scoring, usually not defending. We have athletic issues and size issues defensively, but we usually play a pretty good game."