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Courtesy: Saint Louis Athletics

Billikens Set for Showdown Against Memphis in the NCAAs

Courtesy: Saint Louis Athletics
          Release: 03/14/2012
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Saint Louis (25-7) vs. Memphis (26-8)

Friday, March 16, 2012 • 5:50 p.m. (CT) • Columbus, Ohio (Nationwide Arena)

TV: TBS (Tim Brando, Mike Gminski, Otis Livingston)

Radio: 101 ESPN (Bob Ramsey, Earl Austin Jr.)

NOTABLES

  • Saint Louis is making its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance and first since the 1999-2000 season.
  • The winner of Friday night's matchup advances to play either Michigan State or LIU Brooklyn on Sunday.
  • The Billikens, who are coming off a 71-64 loss to Xavier in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, are 25-7 overall. That record includes a 12-4 mark in A-10 play, which was good for second in the league.
  • Senior forward Brian Conklin was tabbed first-team All-Conference. He leads the Billikens with 13.9 ppg and a .533 shooting percentage from the field.
  • Junior point guard Kwamain Mitchell is a third-team All-Conference pick. He is second on the team with 12.1 ppg and leads the squad in assists (122) and steals (42).
  • Junior forward Cody Ellis is third on the Billikens with 10.5 ppg. He has drilled a team-best 68 3-pointers.
  • Sophomore forward Dwayne Evans leads the team and ranks seventh in the conference with 7.3 rpg. He has seven double-doubles this season and 12 for his career.
  • Sophomore guard Jordair Jett was named to the league's All-Defensive team. Senior guard Kyle Cassity and Conklin were named to the All-Academic team.
  • Sophomore guard Mike McCall Jr. is averaging 9.4 ppg since entering the starting lineup Feb. 1. During that stretch, he is second on the team with 30.0 mpg.
  • Sophomore forward Rob Loe is third on the squad with 32 3-point field goals.
  • The Billikens are eighth in the country defensively, yielding an average of 57.5 ppg.
  • Saint Louis scores 69.2 ppg while shooting 45.2 percent from the field, 36.2 percent from 3-point range and 71.6 percent from the line.
  • Rick Majerus recorded his 500th win Dec. 10 with a 72-62 victory against Illinois-Springfield at Chaifetz Arena. In 25 career seasons, his record stands at 516-215. His five-year mark at SLU is 94-68.

GETTING DEFENSIVE                 

  • SLU is among the nation's top defensive squads. Opponents have averaged just 57.5 points against the Billikens this season, which ranks eighth in the country and is tops in the Atlantic 10.
  • The Billikens have held their opponents to 50 or fewer points on 10 occasions so far this season. In addition, teams have scored less than 40 three times.
  • The SLU defense was especially stingy in a recent three-game stretch, yielding just 51 points against La Salle (Feb. 11), 50 against Richmond (Feb. 15) and 46 against Fordham (Feb. 18). In those three games, opponents shot just 37 percent (56-151) from the field and 22 percent (8-36) from 3-point range.
  • The Billikens had one of their best halves of the season defensively Feb. 28 against Xavier at Chaifetz Arena. In the second half, SLU limited the Musketeers to 20 points and 28 percent shooting (7-25) from the field.
  • Richmond, one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the league, was held to just 1-for-15 shooting from long range Feb. 15.
  • SLU forced La Salle into 20 turnovers Feb. 11, which SLU turned into 20 points.
  • Saint Louis held Alabama State to just 35 points Dec. 17, a season-low scoring mark allowed by the Bills.
  • The Billikens held Southern Illinois to 20.5 percent shooting Nov. 15 and tied a school record by limiting the Salukis to just eight field goals.
  • The Billikens own the top three spots in the A-10 this season for fewest points allowed in a game. SLU yielded 35 against Alabama State, 37 against Tennessee State and 39 against Texas Southern.

ON THE OFFENSIVE                 

  • The Billikens are sixth in the Atlantic 10 in field goal percentage, knocking down 45.2 percent of their shots from the floor. SLU is fourth in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (36.2 percent) and ranks first in scoring margin (+11.7).
  • The Billikens have shot 50 percent or better from the field nine times this season. They accomplished that feat only six times all of last year.
  • Saint Louis shot 52.7 percent in the Duquesne game March 3, its best shooting performance in A-10 play this season.
  • SLU scored 86 points against St. Bonaventure Feb. 1, the second-most points scored by the Billikens in an A-10 game. They scored 88 versus Fordham in 2009.
  • SLU's 83 points against Oklahoma in the 76 Classic title game was the previous season high. The Billikens shot a season-best 60.4 percent against the Sooners.
  • The Billikens drained 14 3-pointers against Villanova, a 76 Classic record. That total was one off the school record of 15, which was accomplished twice.

FOUR BILLIKENS NAMED ALL-CONFERENCE                 

  • Saint Louis senior forward Brian Conklin was named first-team All-Conference. It was the first postseason A-10 award of his career.
  • Junior guard Kwamain Mitchell was tabbed a third-team All-Conference selection.
  • Sophomore guard Jordair Jett was voted to the league's All-Defensive team.
  • Senior guard Kyle Cassity and Conklin were named to the A-10's All-Academic squad, marking the second straight season the Billikens had two players on the five-man All-Academic team.

CONKLIN HAVING CAREER YEAR                 

Senior forward Brian Conklin leads the team in scoring at 13.9 ppg, ranking 15th in the A-10. His 446 points scored are a career high, surpassing the 271 he scored a year ago. He surpassed the 1,000-point barrier against St. Bonaventure, becoming the 26th Billiken to enter the distinguished club. Conklin, who has already graduated with a bachelor's degree and is enrolled in SLU's MBA program, was selected an Academic All-American Feb. 23.

MITCHELL SECOND IN SCORING                 

Junior guard Kwamain Mitchell is second on the team with 12.1 ppg and leads the squad in assists (122) and steals (42). He is tied for first in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 2.1 assist/turnover ratio and ninth in assists per game (3.8).

ELLIS A THREAT FROM DEEP                 

Junior forward Cody Ellis, who has come off the bench in all but one game this season, is third on the team with 10.5 ppg and has drilled a team-best 68 triples. He also has drawn rave reviews for his defensive play this season and leads the team in charges taken, including four last Friday against La Salle.

                 

EVANS LEADS TEAM IN REBOUNDING, DOUBLE-DOUBLES                 

Sophomore forward Dwayne Evans leads the Billikens with 7.3 rpg, which included an 8.4 rpg average in A-10 games. He has seven double-doubles this season and is the Billikens' active leader in double-doubles with 12. He has led the Billikens in rebounding 19 times this season.

1,000-POINT CLUB                 

Junior point guard Kwamain Mitchell and senior forward Brian Conklin became the 25th and 26th members of the 1,000-point club this season. Mitchell recorded his 1,000th career point on a 3-pointer with 11:40 remaining Dec. 7 against Vermont. Conklin's came on a layup four minutes into the Billikens' game against St. Bonaventure Feb. 1. Mitchell is SLU's active leader in points scored with 1,286, which is 15th on SLU's all-time scoring list. Conklin has 1,134 career points and is 19th on the all-time scoring chart.

ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP                 

  • Saint Louis earned a No. 2 seed in the A-10 Championship after posting a 12-4 record in the league. As a result, the Bills received a first-round bye.
  • Saint Louis upended La Salle 78-71 last Friday in a quarterfinal matchup at the A-10 Tournament at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
  • Mike McCall Jr. led the Billikens with 16 points, which included a 3-for-5 effort from 3-point range. Kwamain Mitchell turned in 15 points, Brian Conklin had 14 and Jordair Jett added 13 against the Explorers.
  • Against Xavier in the semifinals, the Billikens rallied in the second half to make it close late before bowing out of the tournament with a 71-64 loss. Brian Conklin led the Billikens with 14 points, while Kwamain Mitchell dished out a career-high nine assists.
  • Xavier advanced to Sunday's final against St. Bonaventure, which the Bonnies won to claim the A-10's automatic bid into the A-10 Tournament.

BILLIKENS IN THE ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE                 

Saint Louis is in its seventh season in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The league sent four teams to the NCAAs this year (St. Bonaventure, Temple, Saint Louis and Xavier), the first time since 2004 that the A-10 has put four teams in the NCAA Tournament and the sixth time the league has put four or more teams in the field. Combined with the four A-10 schools invited to the NIT (Dayton, La Salle, Massachusetts and Saint Joseph's), the league sent a record eight institutions to the primary postseason tournaments.

SAINT LOUIS VS. MEMPHIS • THE SERIES

Saint Louis and Memphis are old conference rivals dating back to the Missouri Valley (1967-74), Metro (1975-82), Great Midwest (1991-94) and Conference USA (1995-2004). The Tigers own a 32-25 series advantage. The last meeting was a 79-59 loss at Memphis in the C-USA Tournament in 2004-05. That marked the last game SLU played as a member of Conference USA. The complete series history is listed on page 2 of these game notes.

IN THE RANKINGS

  • Saint Louis received votes in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.
  • The Billikens cracked the top 25 the week of Nov. 26 (after winning the 76 Classic) when they appeared at No. 23 in the AP poll and No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll. The week prior (after beating Washington), SLU received votes in both polls.
  • The Billikens' last appearance in the AP poll prior to this year came during the 1993-94 season when they regularly appeared in the polls and were ranked as high as 16th.

2011-12 SQUAD AMONG ALL-TIME WINNINGEST SLU TEAMS

Saint Louis enters the NCAA Tournament needing two victories to tie the all-time SLU record for wins. The 1988-89 squad captured 27 victories (27-10) while reaching the NIT final. The Billikens are tied for second with the 1986-87 outfit with 25 wins.

BILLIKENS COLLECT 12 WINS IN NON-CONFERENCE SEASON

SLU rolled through the non-conference season with a 12-2 record. It is the best non-conference record for the Billikens since 1993-94, when that squad also posted a 12-2 non-conference mark.

MAJERUS POSTS 500TH VICTORY

The Billikens' win against Illinois-Springfield Dec. 10 at Chaifetz Arena was the 500th of Billiken head coach Rick Majerus' illustrious career. He is one of 19 active Division I head coaches with 500 or more wins. The 500th victory came in his 709th game. Only three active coaches (Roy Williams/627, Jim Boeheim/669 and Bob Huggins/671) reached 500 more quickly. Mike Krzyzewski, the all-time winningest coach, recorded his 500th victory in his 710th game.

BILLIKENS WIN 76 CLASSIC

Saint Louis knocked off Boston College, Villanova and Oklahoma en route to the 76 Classic title in Anaheim over Thanksgiving weekend. It was the first in-season tournament title for the Billikens since winning the Hawaii Pacific Tournament during the 1986-87 season. Brian Conklin was voted MVP and Kwamain Mitchell was named to the All-Tournament team at the 76 Classic in voting conducted by the media. Conklin was tabbed A-10 co-Player of the Week for his performance during the 76 Classic.

UNPRECEDENTED EXPERIENCE ON COACHING STAFF

Majerus and assistant coaches Jim Crews and Jim Whitesell have a remarkable 1,257 combined victories in 73 years of head-coaching experience. Crews (354 career victories) has 24 years of head-coaching experience at Evansville (17) and Army (seven) and won two national championships (one as a player, one as an assistant coach) at Indiana. Whitesell (387 career victories) has seen success at every level and most recently served as head coach at Loyola Chicago.

BILLIKENS IN CANADA                 

Saint Louis had a jump start to its 2011-12 season as the Billikens played a five-game exhibition schedule in Canada over the summer. SLU began its NCAA allotment of 10 practice days Aug. 1 and got in more than 20 practices in St. Louis prior to departing for the 10-day trip through Ontario.

(M)BA POTENTIAL

Saint Louis seniors Kyle Cassity and Brian Conklin graduated with their bachelor's degrees in May 2011. They are enrolled in SLU's MBA program as they finish their athletic eligibility.

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