Southern Illinois (3-0) at Saint Louis (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 24, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Chaifetz Arena (10,600) -- Saint Louis, Missouri. Television: None. Home Record: Southern Illinois 1-0, Saint Louis 1-1. Away Record: Southern Illinois 2-0, Saint Louis 0-0. Neutral Record: Southern Illinois 0-0, Saint Louis 1-1. Conference Record: Southern Illinois 0-0, Saint Louis 0-0. Series Record: Saint Louis leads 27-24.
GAME NOTES: Fresh of its stint in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, the Saint Louis Billikens will play host to the Southern Illinois Salukis in a non- conference matchup at Chaifetz Arena.
The Salukis come into this game riding a three-game winning streak to open the season. Southern Illinois' most recent victory came against instate foe SIU- Edwardsville (71-55). Thus far the level of competition for the Salukis has not been taxing with wins over Benedictine University-Springfield (100-62) and New Orleans (62-55). The Salukis return home to face Fresno State in their next game.
For a NCAA Tournament team from last season, Saint Louis is off to a rocky start. The Billikens have split their first four games including a head- scratching loss at home to Santa Clara. The Billikens looked a bit back to normal during its two final games in the CBE Classic where they topped Texas A&M in the semifinals before bowing to a nationally ranked Kansas squad in the finals (73-59). Including this game Saint Louis will spend 10 of its next 11 games at home.
With back-to-back wins in the all-time series Saint Louis has pressed its advantage to 27-24 against Southern Illinois. Last season in Carbondale the Billikens laid waste to the Salukis in a 61-42 decision.
Southern Illinois fed off of 20 SIUE turnovers and shot a solid 48.1 percent from the floor in its win over the Cougars. The Salukis were the better team in transition scoring 14 points on the fast break and 24 off of turnovers. The score was even closer than perhaps it should have been considering SIUE had a 23-7 edge in second chance points. Both Jeff Early (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Desmar Jackson (12 points, 10 rebounds) had double-doubles.
Jackson was suspended in early November but has still managed to be a consistent contributor this season scoring 11.0 points and bringing in 6.3 rebounds per game. It is Early though who has been the most imposing force on both the glass and in terms of scoring. The 6-foot-1 guard is nearly averaging a double-double by scoring 20.7 points, while hauling in 9.7 rebounds per game. Anthony Beane Jr. (12.0 ppg) is another strong double figure scorer and along with Early is also shooting better than 60 percent from the floor. That type of shooting success has permeated the entire team with the Salukis connecting on 55.2 percent of their shot attempts this season while scoring 81.0 points per game.
A poor offensive showing in the first half doomed Saint Louis against Kansas on Tuesday. The Billikens had just six field goals in the first half, four of which came from beyond the arc, and trailed 39-25 heading into the break. The Billikens were beat up on the inside by the Jayhawks as they finished on the end of a 32-12 difference in points in the paint. Cody Ellis was the lead scorer in the contest, putting in 19 off the bench, while hitting three triples.
Limiting opposing team's on the scoreboard was the key for the Billikens last season and thus far it has continued to be. Opponents are scoring 63.8 points per game against Saint Louis which in turn is putting in 66.8. However the rate of success in terms of field goal percentage has been far too high for Saint Louis as foes net 48.7 percent of their field goal attempts. Four different players are scoring in double figures led by Dwayne Evans (14.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg) who has been a consistent force in the paint. Ellis (13.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Mike McCall Jr. (11.5 ppg) are each scoring well also with Ellis making his contributions off the bench. Running the show is Jordair Jett (6.2 ppg, 4.0 apg, 2.2 spg) who despite not scoring much, has facilitated the offense and been a menace on defense.
On paper Southern Illinois looks like an offensive force, but the Salukis have not exactly faced a difficult schedule. On the road against a tough defensive team, the Salukis will struggle.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Louis 70, Southern Illinois 62
11/24 10:31:48 ET