LOS ANGELES -- Another night on the road proved one too many for No. 23 Saint Louis.
"We weren't as focused," coach Rick Majerus said. "There was a subliminal complacency by our team."
LaRon Armstead scored a career-high 22 points, Anthony Ireland added 17 and Jarred DuBois 16, with the trio combining to go 19 for 20 from the free-throw line for the Lions (4-2).
"When we had Anthony and Jarred in the game late, I felt very confident," Lions coach Max Good said. "Defensively we were very good. What we convinced our guys we've got to do is play through everything. We just keep grinding."
Previously, the biggest victory this season for the Lions came in their opener when they beat then-No. 17 UCLA by 11 points on the road.
Armstead had been averaging 8.3 points before his big game Tuesday.
"This is a very big win," Armstead said. "We're trying to move up. We need to win against teams that aren't ranked."
Cody Ellis scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers, and Brian Conklin added 13 before fouling out in the final seconds for the Billikens (6-1). They were coming off a tournament title at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, where they beat Boston College, Villanova and Oklahoma. The loss concluded a stretch of playing five of their first seven games on the road.
"We didn't have the blockouts and they hit some very tough shots," Majerus said. "We were complacent in turning the ball over. They broke us down athletically. We didn't cover the way we had been. You can't be too tired to block out."
The Lions got back into the game with a 20-6 run that extended over both halves. They scored 10 consecutive points to end the half trailing 30-26 before capping their spurt with consecutive 3-pointers by Ireland and DuBois that gave the Lions a 36-34 lead.
"Our coaches really prepared us for these teams, just knowing their tendencies," Ireland said.
The Lions forced a season-worst 15 turnovers by the Billikens, who were outrebounded 30-25.
"Rob Loe is out there throwing that ball around," Majerus said. "He's got to learn a lesson."
Loe, Conklin and Kyle Cassity had three turnovers each.
"K had been extraordinary, but he went from an 'A' to a 'D' in leadership," Majerus said of Cassity, who had two points. "He had a great resolve in the first six games."
Most of the second half was a back-and-forth game, with neither team leading by more than 10 points. The teams traded baskets until DuBois scored seven straight points to put the Lions ahead 58-52 with 7:07 remaining. That prompted former NBA great Gary Payton to jump to his feet cheering. Matt Barnes of the Los Angeles Lakers also attended.
"Being down doesn't affect us that much because we know we have good players on our team," Armstead said. "We knew everything they were going to do."
The Lions gradually pulled away to lead 72-62, with Armstead and Ireland combining to score the team's final 13 points.
Both teams shot poorly to open a game that was tied three times in the first seven minutes. The Billikens got untracked from long range, hitting four 3-pointers in a 16-3 run that gave them a 28-16 lead. Ellis had back-to-back 3s.
The Lions' defense triggered a 10-0 spurt that brought them back. They forced four consecutive turnovers while Armstead scored eight points, including two 3-pointers, to leave them trailing 28-26. Jordair Jett's jumper kept Saint Louis ahead 30-26 at the break.