NCAA Basketball Tournament - St Louis v Michigan State

Saint Louis wins day after death of Rick Majerus

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Less than 24 hours after the passing of Rick Majerus due to heart failure, the Saint Louis Billikens stepped onto the Chaifetz Arena floor to take on a Valparaiso team pegged as one of the favorites to win the Horizon League.

Given the talent of players such as Ryan Broekhoff and Erik Buggs, this was a dangerous game for Saint Louis even before the tragic news of their former coach passing away.

They weren’t at their best early but the Billikens rebounded in the first half, going on to beat the Crusaders by the final score of 62-49. Dwayne Evans led three Saint Louis players in double figures and as a team SLU shot 55.6% from the field, which helped make up for their 18 turnovers.

Jordair Jett added 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the win, and defensively Saint Louis forced 18 Valparaiso turnovers and limited the Crusaders to 32.6% shooting. Valparaiso attempted 21 of their 46 field goal from beyond the arc, and when a team makes just five of those shots at the Crusaders did they’re in trouble.

Jim Crews’ Billikens were even better defensively in the second half, holding Valparaiso to 28% shooting and harassing them into 11 turnovers.

Broekhoff, the reigning Horizon League Player of the Year, made just four of his 12 shots from the field and finished with ten points and Buggs shot 2-of-8. Kevin Van Wijk and Matt Kenney joined Broekhoff in double figures, scoring ten points apiece.

But for all the statistics and the analysis of what Saint Louis will need to improve upon if they’re to contend in the Atlantic 10, Sunday’s game was about far more than the result.

Majerus won 517 games as a head coach at Marquette, Ball State, Utah and Saint Louis, but a look at the many stories and quotes from those who shared time with him reveals feelings far deeper than wins and losses.

For that reason it’s probably appropriate that Crews wouldn’t dedicate this result to Majerus.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: