Jordair Jett scored all 16 of his points in the second half and Mike McCall, Jr. added 15 to help Saint Louis win its eighth straight and take sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 with a 76-62 victory over No. 24 VCU on Tuesday night.
Saint Louis (20-5, 9-2) holds a half-game advantage over No. 15 Butler (21-6, 9-3), which beat cellar dweller Duquesne 68-49 Tuesday. The Billikens will visit Butler Friday. SLU defeated the Bulldogs at home 75-58 on Jan. 31.
Led by Jett and Cody Ellis, who contributed 10 points, SLU's bench outscored VCU's 34-14. Dwayne Evans also was in double figures for SLU with 14 points.
VCU (21-6, 9-3) was led by Juvonte Reddic with 19 points and 12 rebounds. The double-double was his 10th this season.
The loss snapped VCU's five-game winning streak and was the worst of the season for the Rams, whose previous biggest loss was nine points to Dukeback in November.
The Rams entered the game averaging 78.1 points, tops in the Atlantic 10. But the Rams were no match for the Billikens' league-leading defense (57.8 ppg) in the opening half.
Saint Louis held the Rams without a field goal for more than 10 minutes, and allowed just eight baskets during the first half. That helped the Billikens build a 38-21 halftime lead.
The Billikens led 11-8 when VCU's Rob Brandenberg sank a bucket with 14:34 left in the first half. VCU did not score from the field again until Treveon Graham hit a jumper with 4:08 remaining. Saint Louis outscored 21-1 during that stretch to open up a 32-11 advantage.
VCU found its stroke to start the second half, as the Rams made their first five shots out of the break to cut the lead to 45-34. But Jett answered with a layup and a conventional three-point play with 15:24 remaining to increase the lead to 50-34.
Saint Louis would stretch the lead back out to 26 when Ellis hit a layup with 6:02 remaining that made it 68-42.