SAN JOSE -- Saint Louis opened what it hopes is a long NCAA tournament run with a 64-44 win over New Mexico State in Thursday's Midwest Regional game at HP Pavilion.
Dwayne Evans had 24 points and six rebounds and the fourth-seeded Billikens (27-6) never trailed against the No. 13 Aggies (24-11).
Saint Louis, whose coach Rick Majerus died in December, advances to Saturday's round of 32 to face Oregon or Oklahoma State.
"We're in the NCAA (tournament), that's awesome. Win a championship, that's absolutely awesome," said Billikens coach Jim Crews, who took over when Majerus took a medical leave of absence last summer. "But the maturity and the development that these guys have had, and just who they are and becoming, that's pretty cool from my standpoint."
Saint Louis led 29-16 at halftime and withstood New Mexico State's only extended run when the Aggies scored eight consecutive points in the second half. That cut the Billikens' lead to 37-31 with 13:53 to play.
Evans ended the run with a jumper and moments later, Saint Louis began a 10-0 spurt that put the game away.
New Mexico State's Sim Bhullar, a 7-foot-5, 355-pound freshman, finished with four points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. A raw player, Bhullar was clearly a fan favorite who drew cheers whenever he made a play, but he didn't match the production that earned him MVP honors at the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
Bandja Sy led the Aggies with 17 points and also had nine rebounds.
"My only disappointment is we didn't get to show who we really are," New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies said. "We didn't get to show the true WAC champions."
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