Kingston, RI – St. Louis (14-2, 1-0) fought off an improved Rhode Island (9-7, 0-1) squad and escaped with a hard-fought 59-58 win. Jordair Jett led the Billikens and had a career night with 31 points, bettering his previous scoring high by 12 points.
Jett hit 10-of-18 from the field, made both of his three-pointers and got himself to the foul line 13 times. His two free throws gave St. Louis the 59-58 lead with seven seconds remaining after Xavier Munford (16 points) had given Rhode Island a one-point lead after making one of two free throws. Rhode Island had a final chance to pull off the victory. Munford had the ball with seven seconds left, dribbling down the sideline closely defended by Jett. There appeared to be a bump by Jett but Munford lost his balance and was called for traveling.
Rhode Island, coming off a excellent road win at LSU, battled back from a 19-point first half and a subsequent 12-point deficit to take a 46-41 lead with 8:48 left to play. However, they couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch to get the upset win. Dwayne Evans, the Billikens’ leading scorer, battled foul trouble and finished with 11 points. Freshman guard E.C. Matthews continues to improve for the Rams, leading his team with 17 points, including a key three-pointer that tied the game at 57 in the final minute.
Jett, a senior point guard, is extremely strong at 6’1 and 215 pounds. In this game he looked like a man playing against boys, continually getting to the basket at will and finishing or drawing fouls. He shot very well tonight but has been a mediocre shooter (30 percent on three-pointers and in the low 60 percent range on free throws) throughout his career.
He’s an excellent defender with good lateral movement and uses his strong body to limit penetration. He has good anticipation, averaging over one steal per game throughout his career. Jett is efficient at the point with a greater than 2-1 assist to turnover ratio, averaging 4.8 assists per game in a methodical S. Louis offense.
While it’s difficult to evaluate a player when they just played a career game, Jett’s defense, strength and efficient point guard skills should make him a viable candidate for a mid-to-high level European league.