MBB Preview: No. 15 Billikens Travel to Xavier
No. 15/16 Saint Louis (23-5, 12-2 A-10) at Xavier (16-12, 8-6 A-10)
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 • 8 p.m. (CT) • Cincinnati, Ohio (Cintas Center)
TV: FOX Sports Midwest (Pat Parris, Joe Wiley)
Radio: 101 ESPN/101.1 FM/101Sports.com (Bob Ramsey, Earl Austin Jr.)
SETTING THE SCENE
First-place Saint Louis (23-5, 12-2 A-10) looks to clinch at least a share of the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season title Wednesday when it travels to Cintas Center to face Xavier in an 8 p.m. (CT) tip.
FOLLOWING THE ACTION
Wednesday's game will be televised in the St. Louis region on FOX Sports Midwest, with Pat Parris and Billiken Hall of Famer Joe Wiley on the call. The game will also air on Time Warner Cable. The radio broadcast will air on 101 ESPN (101.1 FM and 101Sports.com). As always, Billiken Hall of Famer Bob Ramsey will provide the play-by-play, while St. Louis American Sports Editor Earl Austin Jr. handles the analysis.
LAST TIME OUT
• Saint Louis withstood a second-half rally and defeated George Washington 66-58 last Saturday at the Smith Center in Washington, D.C.
• It was the Billikens' 11th-straight victory.
• Dwayne Evans registered his second straight double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. It was his fourth double-double of the year and 16th of his career. Evans was 7-of-13 from the field and 8-of-9 from the line. He also recorded a career-high four steals.
• Kwamain Mitchell scored 18 points, 15 of which came in the second half.
• Jordair Jett scored 11 points.
• SLU was 21-of-24 from the free-throw line, making 15 consecutive at one point. The .875 mark is the Billikens' best shooting performance of the year from the line.
• A win at Xavier on Wednesday would ensure the Billikens at least a share of the A-10 regular-season title and a No. 1 seed in the A-10 Men's Basketball Championship in Brooklyn.
• Saint Louis enters Wednesday's game on an 11-game winning streak, which is tied for the seventh-longest active streak in the country.
• SLU is ranked No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 16 in the AP Top 25. It is the first time the Billikens have been ranked in back-to-back weeks since the 1993-94 season.
• The Bills, who hold a one game lead in the A-10 over VCU, have defeated a school record four ranked foes this season.
• The Bills lead the A-10 and are 19th nationally in scoring defense, yielding 57.9 ppg.
• SLU is second in the league and 12th nationally in turnover margin (+3.8). It forces opponents into 15.0 turnovers a game, while SLU commits 11.2 turnovers per game.
• Saint Louis features a balanced scoring attack, with six players averaging 7.2 points or more per game. The Bills' top three scorers are separated by 1.6 ppg.
• Junior forward Dwayne Evans leads the team in scoring (12.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg). He is averaging 16.5 ppg during SLU's current 11-game winning streak.
• Senior forward Cody Ellis averages 10.6 ppg. He became the 27th Billiken to join the 1,000-point club in the GW tilt.
• Junior guard Mike McCall Jr. averaged a team-best 13.5 ppg in SLU's four game vs. ranked opponents. For the year, he scores 10.0 ppg and is tied for the team lead in steals.
• Junior guard Jordair Jett has averaged 11.7 ppg during SLU's 11-game winning streak. For the year, he scores 9.9 ppg and leads the team in assists.
• In A-10 games, senior guard Kwamain Mitchell averages 9.7 ppg while junior forward Rob Loe averages 8.5 ppg.
• The Billikens wrap up the regular season Saturday, March 9, against La Salle at Chaifetz Arena. Game time is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Billiken seniors Cody Ellis, Femi John, Kwamain Mitchell and Cory Remekun will be recognized in a post-game ceremony.
BILLIKENS GOING FOR A-10 REGULAR-SEASON TITLE
• A win Wednesday at Xavier would ensure the Billikens at least a share of the A-10 regular season title.
• The last time the Billikens earned at least a share of a conference regular season crown was in 1970-71, when SLU tied for first in the Missouri Valley Conference.
• SLU's last outright regular-season conference title was in 1956-57 in the Missouri Valley Conference. In all, the Billikens have won five regular-season conference titles (3 outright, two shared).
IN THE RANKINGS
• The Billikens have moved up in both polls this week. They are No. 15 (up from No. 19) in the USA Today coaches poll, and moved up two spots to No. 16 in the AP Top 25.
• The No. 15 ranking in the USA Today coaches poll is SLU's best ranking since 1964-65, when they came in at No. 9 in the AP Top 25 on Dec. 29.
• It is the first time the Billikens have been ranked in back-to-back weeks since the 1993-94 season, when "SpoonBall" was ranked in nine consecutive weeks to end the season. The highest the Bills got that year was No. 16 on Feb. 28.
• Last season, SLU was ranked No. 23 in the AP poll and No. 25 in the USA Today poll Nov. 28 following SLU's title in the 76 Classic. However, the Bills lost their next game at Loyola Marymount and never re-entered the rankings.
• Prior to SpoonBall, you have to go back to the 1960s since SLU registered a national ranking. The Billikens were ranked as high as No. 4 (December 8, 1964).
• The Billikens were ranked No. 1 in the first-ever AP poll released Jan. 18, 1949. SLU was also No. 1 the next week (Jan. 25).
• Saint Louis has won 11 in a row, the longest active streak in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The streak is also tied for the seventh longest in the nation.
• Six of the wins during the streak have come on the road, while five have come at home.
• The Billikens had a nine-game winning streak earlier this year. It is the first time in school history SLU has had two streaks of at least nine wins in a single season.
EVANS NAMED A-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
• Junior forward Dwayne Evans was named A-10 Player of the Week for the period ending March 2. He registered double-doubles against Saint Joseph's and George Washington and averaged 21.1 ppg and 12.0 rpg during the week.
• He is the first Billiken to be named A-10 Player of the Week this year and first since Brian Conklin of last year. Other A-10 Player of the Weeks in SLU history include Kwamain Mitchell, Tommie Liddell III, Kevin Lisch and Ian Vouyoukas.
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
Senior forward Cody Ellis became the 27th member of the Billikens' 1,000 points club when he drained a 3-pointer at George Washington. He joins Kwamain Mitchell as an active member of the club.
MOVING ON UP
• Kwamain Mitchell is ninth on SLU's all-time scoring list. He is fourth all-time in steals, one away from tying Anthony Drejaj for third, and fourth in assists. He is the only player in school history to rank in the top five in assists and steals, as well as the top 10 in career points.
• Cory Remekun continues to climb the blocked shots chart. He is fifth on the all-time list.
• Cody Ellis trails Mitchell for sixth on the all-time list in 3-pointers made. Ellis is fifth all-time at SLU in 3-pointers attempted, just ahead of Mitchell.
• Prior to the New Mexico game Dec. 31, the Billikens led wire-to-wire the previous three contests (Eastern Illinois, Loyola Marymount and SIUE). The Lobos snapped that streak when they opened the game with a 3-pointer. However, SLU quickly responded with a trey of its own, then took the lead minutes later and led the rest of the way.
• SLU also never trailed in wins against Southern Illinois, St. Bonaventure, Fordham and VCU.
• Xavier University enters Wednesday's game 16-12 overall and 8-6 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
• Xavier is coming off a 77-72 loss against UMass at Cintas Center. Wednesday's game is the fourth straight for the Musketeers in their home arena.
• Semaj Christon leads the team in scoring with 15 ppg. He has also dished out a team-leading 123 assists and recorded 38 steals. He earned A-10 Rookie of the Week honors this week, the sixth time this year he has earned the recognition.
• Travis Taylor scores 11.8 ppg and pulls down a team-leading 8.6 rpg. Dee Davis scores 8.6 ppg, while Travis Releford scores 7.6 thanks in part to a team-leading 59 treys.
• Head coach Chris Mack is 89-42 in four years at Xavier.
• Xavier leads the all-time series 29-14. Last year, SLU ended Xavier's 43 conference home winning streak with a 73-68 victory at Cintas Center. SLU then defeated the Musketeers 70-59 during the regular season at Chaifetz Arena. However, Xavier prevailed 71-64 in the semifinals of the A-10 Tournament in Atlantic City. Prior to last year, the Musketeers had won seven in a row in the series.