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SLU Basketball gives Billikens fans something to be thankful for heading into Thanksgiving.

Things went about as well as they possibly could for the Billikens Wednesday night. They got the win, they did so in a convincing fashion, and they got to experiment with some new things.

Ultimately the Billikens showed that they are clearly in another class of talent than the lower end SIUE. The stars shined; Javonte Perkins made it look easy, getting 22 points in just 20 minutes of play, Jordan Goodwin got another double-double, Yuri got 6 assists, and Gibson Jimerson was perfect behind the arc with an added inside jumper for 11 points.

The score could have been much worse. SLU spread its rotation out as much as possible, giving everyone a chance to get live touches and opportunities. It was clear later in the game that it was a much fairer fight when the Billikens had their newcomers and freshmen out on the floor competing for time. They looked nervous about making a move; no one wanted to be the guy to really take over. In that regard, it was an excellent opportunity to help them shake out their sea-legs.

The Billikens did a lot of things well. They shot the ball well, they moved in transition, and Travis Ford highlighted in his post-game thoughts that he felt the Offense really helped the defense. The offense didn’t turn the ball over or rush bad shots leading to breaks the other way. They got the looks they wanted and defended how they wanted to.

The Travis Ford Defensive Experience usually takes 20 games to really settle in and take full effect. We saw that happening at the end of last year. But if the offense can be more responsible and more productive, there won’t be so much pressure on the D to carry them to wins.

On the other hand, there were some weird performances. I wouldn’t call them poor because, truly, no one played outright bad, but some things were left to be desired.

For example, Yuri Collins had six assists to just one turnover but still looked a little behind on defense and out of place on Offense. He wasn’t bad, just weird. Another example, Jimmy Bell Jr had some highs and lows. However, he is still clearly coming back from his injury and not fully prepared.

As a team, the Billikens clearly had some ideas about what they wanted to do but oftentimes made poor decision’s in trying to accomplish those goals. It was clear they felt they wanted to get the ball in the post as often as possible, but they often forced a pass through a double team trying to thread the needle.

All of this is a long way of saying the Billikens weren’t perfect. They were good but not flawless; it would be ludicrous to suggest or expect them to be. When Travis Ford talks about improvement, this is what he means. The Bills will get better, clean up the small stuff so that people like me have a harder time of being a buzzkill.

The Bills will face a group with a significantly more prominent offense on Saturday. The opportunity to let Jordan, Javonte, and everyone on the roster really a chance to play, but not gas themselves, is valuable.

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The most honest truth, or perhaps take away of the evening, came from Travis Ford during the post-game Zoom Conference. Coach Ford admitted to getting emotional when walking on to the court for the first-time during pre-game warmup. After what many have gone through, the world, America, the team, being able to get out and play a game is sort of magical.

Travis helped put into perspective what exactly we were all doing there that night. How important it is and how quickly it can and was taken away. Sports have been the saving grace of many. Those involved are no exception. That thought wasn’t lost on me before, but it certainly was underlined by Travis Ford’s moment of vulnerability.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.

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