Jordair Jett, Jake Barnett, Roosevelt Jones

Saint Louis forces 23 turnovers in 75-58 win over No. 9 Butler

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The matchup between No. 9 Butler and Saint Louis was expected to be a tough affair, with both teams being good defensive teams.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they picked this night to have their worst game of the season in regards to taking care of the basketball. Against the Billikens’ stingy defense Butler turned the ball over a season-high 23 times, with Saint Louis converting those miscues into 26 points in their 75-58 win at Chaifetz Arena.

Before Thursday’s defeat Butler’s high for turnovers in a game was 18, a number reached in wins over North Carolina and then-No. 1 Indiana, but neither of those teams were as tough on the Bulldogs defensively as the Billikens were.

Offensively Jim Crews’ team did a better job of finding quality looks as the game went on, shooting 50% from the field on the night and 55.2% in the second half (SLU made 58.5% of their two-point shots). Reserve guard Jordair Jett scored 19 points to lead the way for Saint Louis, whose reserves scored 31 points, with Dwayne Evans and Rob Loe adding 15 and 12 points apiece.

Rotnei Clarke (17 points) and Andrew Smith (12 points, six rebounds) led the way offensively for Butler but Saint Louis made things difficult on the Bulldogs’ top two scorers all night. Clarke and Smith combined to shoot 10-of-25 from the field, with Clarke also committing six turnovers.

While this was a stunning performance in regards to Butler, this is the second time this season the Billikens have overwhelmed a ranked opponent at home with their defense. The first came in SLU’s 60-46 win over New Mexico on New Year’s Eve, with the Lobos turning the ball over 21 times.

Even with Kwamain Mitchell scoring just four points Saint Louis was in total control for much of the game on Thursday night, thanks in large part to their work on the defensive end of the floor.

And in a tight Atlantic 10 race that now has seven teams with two conference losses, Saint Louis will need to defend at this level consistently (this would explain their overtime loss to Rhode Island) in order to have a shot at a second straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

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: