In the World of Combat Sports, there is a common saying, “Styles make fights”. If you are familiar with both the KC Roos and SLU Billikens men’s basketball program, you could properly stick that slogan on Wednesday Night’s game at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, MO. In one corner you had a methodical defensive minded team representing the West Side of Missouri in the Kansas City Roos and in the other corner you had the Up-Tempo Offensive minded squad representing the East Side of the State in the St. Louis University Billikens. While the style and pace were in favor of the Roos, it was the Billikens who claimed a gritty 62-46 victory behind strong efforts from Seniors Jordan Goodwin (23pts & 13rebs) and Javonte Perkins (14pts). Perkins was assigned the role lead defender on Roos Guard Brandon McKissic (18pts 5rebs & 5ast). The bigger longer Perkins would help force McKissic to 5 turnovers on the night.
1st Half UMKC – 26 x SLU – 28
SLU entered this evening with an impressive 6-1 record (Wins over LSU & NC State) and averaging 87 points per contest. On paper, it did not look like a great match-up for Billy Donlan’s team. However, most coaches will tell you that last Home Game right before the Holiday Break is never an easy win, no matter the opponent. The home team usually has their bags packed ready to get out of dodge for a few days, while the visiting squad with nowhere to go tends to start games with better energy. And in most years the Home squad is without much of the beloved fan base also gone for the holidays. For most of the first half the game looked to have the makings of a Pre-Holiday upset in favor of the visiting Roos.
After a quick layup by Josiah Allick to start the game, the pace would slow to KC’s preferred tempo. Playing pesky defense and working the clock on offense, Coach Donlan’s crew were able to prevent the up-tempo Billikens from getting into any kind of offensive rhythm. After a few back and forth buckets, the Roos would take control with a 13-7 lead at the 10-Minute Mark of the game. While Senior Guard, Brandon McKissic was quiet in the first 10 minutes, mostly deferring and distributing to teammates, he picked up his scoring starting with a couple of scores taking his man off the dribble and scoring at the rim. After 4 straight Free-Throws from Billikens guard, Jordan Goodwin, McKissic would show his range with a long 2 and a catch and shoot 3 that was sandwiched by a Franck Kamgain three. Seemingly in control of the game at the point with under 4:00 to go in the half, the Billikens found a spark and a different intensity which lead to a 11-0 run. McKissic would end the Billiken run with another three to end the scoring in the first half.
2nd Half UMKC – 20 x SLU – 34
Neither team started the 2nd Frame particularly sharp with multiple misses. The first points of the half came after a shooting foul on Zion Williams, who would temporarily leave the game with an apparent arm or elbow injury. Jordan Goodwin would proceed to knock down both Freebies. McKissic and Allick with respond with a put back and a crafty hook shot respectively to tie the game at 30. Unfortunately for the Roos, this would be the last time the game would be tied with the Billikens taking complete control of the game from this point on. What could the change? A defensive shift by the Billikens, who after showing glimpses of a 1-3-1 Zone in the 1st Half would go back to it and stick with it for majority of the final 17 minutes of the game.
The scheme change would not only improve the Billiken’s Defense but would also help ignite their struggling offense. Coach Travis Ford would also assign 6’6” Wing, Javonte Perkins, to shadow the 6’3” McKissic up the length of the court. Perkins size and length advantage would often force the Roos Floor General to one side of the court or the other often trapping the St. Louis native forcing the ball out of his hands or throwing errant passes. The 1-3-1 Zone was ultimately the demise of the Roos offense that could no longer get in rhythm to run their offense predicated on ball movement, Time of Possession and Shot Efficiency. With the Roos out of sorts, Perkins and Goodwin would pick up the pace for the Billikens with Perkins hitting from deep and Goodwin attacking the rim either getting a bucket or going to the line for Free Throws. Behind their Senior Guards, SLU would pull away ending the year with a 62-46 victory.
Final Thoughts & Tidbits
– Tonight’s game was a Homecoming for Senior Guard, Brandon McKissic, who starred at St. Louis University High School. He did not disappoint his local fans with his 18pts, 5rebs, & 5ast. While SLU focused on harassing him 6’6” Javonte Perkins and often trapping/double teaming him, he showed impressive grit and fight throughout the game
– Josiah Allick had another dependable game from the post adding 13 points and 9 rebounds.
– What is going to determine the success of the Roos season, is who will step up to help KC’s main duo and add depth to a thin roster? Sharpshooters Franck Kamgain and Jacob Johnson appear to be the obvious choices but need to be more consistent versus higher level competition.
– With reserve Big Man, Jonathon Bolden, leaving the team earlier in the season, Coach Donlan will have to get crafty with his physically small roster. As of now there does not seem to be a viable back up to Josiah Allick in the post.
– The Roos will resume play after the Holidays when Summit League play begins. They will head to the far north to take on the North Dakota Fight Hawks, in Grand Forks for Back-to-Back Games (Jan 2nd & 3rd).