|The Billikens defeated the New Mexico State Aggies 64-44.|
Dwayne Evans has taken his game to the "Left Coast."
The Billikens' junior forward, who dazzled East Coast fans with his Most Outstanding Player performance at last week's Atlantic 10 Championship in Brooklyn, scored a game-high 24 points to lead 13th-ranked Saint Louis to a 64-44 victory over New Mexico State Thursday in NCAA Tournament second-round action at HP Pavilion.
Saint Louis advances to Saturday's third round to play Oregon (27-8), the No. 12 seed. Game time is still to be determined. The Ducks defeated No. 5 seed Oklahoma State 68-55.
SLU (28-6), the No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region, captured its school-record 28th victory and fifth consecutive win. The 20-point margin is the largest for the Bills in their NCAA Tournament history.
New Mexico State, the No. 13 Midwest seed and Western Athletic Conference tournament champion, saw its five-game winning streak snapped and finished 24-11.
Evans' 24 points are the most scored by a Billiken in an NCAA Tournament game and just one off his career high. He made a career-high 11 field goals (11-of-16) and added six rebounds, tying Cody Ellis and Cory Remekun for team-high honors.
Ellis (3-of-4 from 3-point range) and Remekun tallied 12 and 11 points, respectively. Jordair Jett led all players with seven assists, while Kwamain Mitchell registered five helpers.
Bandja Sy tossed in 17 points to lead New Mexico State. The Aggies were held to their lowest point total and lowest field goal percentage (.279) of the season and became the eighth SLU opponent this year to score fewer than 50 points.
Sim Bhullar grabbed 11 rebounds, Sy had nine and Renaldo Dixon added eight as New Mexico State earned a 42-33 edge on the boards.
In addition to claiming the Bills' single-game record for points in an NCAA Tournament game, Evans became the 28th member of SLU's 1,000-point club. Needing 16 points to reach the milestone, he took care of it in the first half as Saint Louis built a 13-point cushion at the break.
The Billikens never trailed, grabbing a 4-0 lead on Evans' driving layup and two Mitchell free throws. New Mexico State didn't score until Dixon's tip-in at the 16:24 mark, and the Aggies trailed 6-4 after Sy answered Evans' spinning layup with a dunk.
That was as close as it would get, however, as Saint Louis began to pull away. Evans scored eight of his 16 first-half points, and Ellis and Mitchell each drained a 3-pointer in a 14-4 spurt that put the Billikens on top 20-8.
Ellis buried another trey with just under a minute left to give SLU its largest lead of the half, 29-14. The Billikens led 29-16 at intermission.
New Mexico State put together a second-half run, scoring on five consecutive possessions to make it 39-33 with 12:57 remaining.
But a 10-1 run put Saint Louis back in command. Ellis began the flurry with a free throw and punctuated it with a 3-pointer and 15-foot jumper, and the Billikens were in front 49-34 with 9:33 remaining. The lead remained at 13 or higher the rest of the way.