Texas A&M (3-0) vs. Saint Louis (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 19, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sprint Center (18,972) -- Kansas City, Missouri. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Texas A&M 3-0, Saint Louis 1-1. Away Record: Texas A&M 0-0, Saint Louis 0-0. Neutral Record: Texas A&M 0-0, Saint Louis 0-0. Conference Record: Texas A&M 0-0, Saint Louis 0-0. Series Record: Saint Louis leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: The Texas A&M Aggies and the Saint Louis Billikens square off on Monday night in Kansas City as part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic Championship Round.
The winner will go on play either Kansas or Washington State on Tuesday, with the losers facing off in the consolation game.
Texas A&M opened the season with a three-game homestand, claiming double-digit victories over Louisiana Tech (71-59), Troy (83-65), and Prairie View A&M (81-59). It marks the eighth time in the last nine seasons that the Aggies have started the season 3-0.
Saint Louis won its opener in impressive fashion against USC Upstate (76-59), but then it dropped its next game at home to Santa Clara, 74-62. The Billikens also received some crushing news this week that head coach Rick Majerus, who's been dealing with health issues, will step away from the team for an indefinite period of time. Majerus has helped turn around the program in his five years, going 95-69.
Saint Louis has won four of the five matchups in the all-time series with Texas A&M, but the Aggies were victorious in the last meeting in November of 2006 (69-33).
Texas A&M has shot the ball efficiently so far this season, draining 47 percent of its field goal attempts, and while that number slipped to 44.4 percent in the last game against Prairie View A&M, it was able to make up for it with impressive showings from beyond the arc (9-of-19) and the free throw line (24-of-29). Pacing five players in double figures was Fabyon Harris, who drained four treys en route to 18 points. Ray Turner narrowly missed a double- double with 17 points and nine rebounds, and with nine more connections from the foul line, he's a perfect 17-of-17 from the stripe this season. J'Mychal Reese tallied 15 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Elston Turner and Jordan Green each scored 10 points while combining for 10 assists. On the season, Elston Turner (17.0 ppg), Harris (15.3 ppg) and Ray Turner (13.0 ppg) have all been consistent contributors to the team's scoring average of 78.3 ppg.
It was an all-around sloppy game for Saint Louis against Santa Clara. Not only did it shoot poorly from the field (.353) and turn the ball over 17 times, but SLU played uncharacteristically soft defense by allowing its opponent to drain better than 51 percent of its field goal attempts. One of the few bright spots for the Billikens was Rob Loe, who connected on 3-of-6 three-pointers en route to a team-high 13 points. Cody Ellis struggled mightily from the floor (1- of-8) but he drained 8-of-9 free throws to tally 11 points. Mike McCall, Jr. scored eight points and dished out six assists, but he also turned the ball over six times. Dwayne Evans narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and eight boards, and he remains the team's leading scorer on the season with 15.0 ppg. Even in the double-digit loss, the Billikens outrebounded Santa Clara, 33-30, and it has a plus-7.0 rebounding margin on the year.
Saint Louis figured to be one of the favorites in the Atlantic 10 Conference this season, but it won't nearly be as strong, especially at the defensive end of the court, without its leader Majerus. Texas A&M has yet to stumble, and while the Billikens will fight hard, the Aggies will find a way to win down the stretch.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M 73, Saint Louis 68
11/19 10:41:44 ET