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 ST. LOUIS (AP) -Rick Majerus may be in for a challenge in his coaching comeback, judging from Saint Louis' uneven play Friday night in its lone exhibition game.
``It's going to be an interesting year,'' Majerus said after a ragged 71-54 victory over Division II Missouri-St. Louis. ``I don't know what kind of year it's going to be.''
Kevin Lisch scored 20 points and Tommie Liddell III had 14 for Saint Louis.
Attendance was estimated at about 8,000 in the 21,000-seat Scottrade Center, an increase over exhibitions in past seasons but well shy of event status.
That could reflect a wait-and-see approach from the school's fans, even with the high-profile Majerus on the sideline. Majerus, who got a six-year contract in April, has never had a losing season in 20 years of coaching and has taken 11 teams to the NCAA tournament.
``It was fun to just get out and play a real game,'' Lisch said. ``As you can see and we can see, we've got a lot to work on.
``But we can kind of see how this is all going to be put together, and it's going to be a lot of fun.''
Majerus, back in coaching for the first time since 2004, inherited four starters from a 20-win team that was invited to the NCAA or NIT. The Billikens were tested at times by Missouri-St. Louis, 9-18 last season and picked to finish sixth out of seven teams in the Great Lakes Valley Conference West Division.
``They've got three D-I transfers but we should be better than them, we are better than them,'' Majerus said. ``I thought they gave a great accounting of themselves.''
Saint Louis shot 51 percent using a style that didn't look much different, if at all, from last season when Brad Soderberg was the coach. The Billikens played under control and worked the clock much of the game as Majerus, clad in turtleneck sweater, stood and watched, often with both hands stuffed in his pockets.
Majerus scheduled four hours of practice in two time slots for Saturday, and players say he's plenty tough on them during preparation.
``He was fairly mellow on the bench,'' Lisch said. ``I had no idea what to expect, really. He gets after you in practice and I'm sure some games are different than others.''
Liddell, Saint Louis' leading scorer last season, was not in the starting lineup although he was the first off the bench. Majerus' opening lineup had Barry Eberhardt, a transfer from Coffeyville, Kan., Community College, and Luke Meyer at forwards. Adam Knollmeyer started at center ahead of 7-foot Bryce Husak, recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot, with Lisch and Dwayne Polk at guard.
``He's got to learn at a higher pace,'' Majerus said of Liddell. ``He's got to play with a greater urgency defensively.''
Eberhardt added 12 points and five rebounds for Saint Louis.
Sky Frazier had 15 points and Paul Paradoski 10 for Missouri-St. Louis. The Tritons are the foil for another state school on Saturday, playing at Missouri.
T on Nov. 9 in the Hispanic College Fund Classic in Pittsburgh. The home opener is against Detroit on Nov. 14.
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