FACTS & STATS: Site: Chaifetz Center (10,600)-- St. Louis, Missouri. Television: None. Home Record: URI 4-4, SLU 11-1. Away Record: URI 1-4, SLU 0-2. Neutral Record: URI 0-2, SLU 1-1. Conference Record: URI 0-2, SLU 1-1. Series Record: Rhode Island leads, 6-5.
GAME NOTES: The Saint Louis Billikens aim for their 11th straight home win when they play host to the struggling Rhode Island Rams in an Atlantic 10 Conference clash at Chaifetz Center on Saturday night.
The Rams, who are coming off a 58-50 home loss to Charlotte a week ago, are last in the A-10 in offense. They're averaging 60.1 ppg and shooting a paltry 38.9 percent from the field, dead-last of the 16 teams in the conference. Rhode Island, losers of two straight games, was paced by Mike Powell and Andre Malone, who scored 16 and 13 points, respectively, in last Saturday's contest. URI shot an impressive 52.4 percent from the floor in the first half and was guilty of just five turnovers, yet that only translated into a one-point lead at the break, 31-30. In the second half the Rams fell apart, connecting on only 7-of-26 (.269) from the field and missing all 11 chances behind the 3- point line, en route to the eight-point setback.
Junior guard Xavier Munford paces URI and also the A-10 with 17.3 ppg. Nikola Malesevic (10.5 ppg), Powell (10.2 ppg) and Malone (10.1 ppg) are the other players in double figures. What's been driving the success for the Rams has been their defense. Last season, they were one of the worst defensive squads in the country (321st out of 339 teams). This season's team is allowing close to 12 points fewer per contest (63.3 ppg).
Saint Louis' track record on defense is even better. The Billikens lead the A-10 in scoring defense, yielding a mere 56.0 ppg. They've allowed 46 or fewer points in four straight games recently, and are coming off a 64-54 loss to Temple in Philadelphia a week ago. The Billikens, who had a nine-game win streak broken, were paced by Rob Loe. He posted 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Dwayne Evans came up a point shy of a double-double as he grabbed 13 rebounds.
Junior guard Mike McCall Jr. paces the Billikens in scoring with 11.6 ppg. He leads the team and is second in the A-10 in 3-point field goal percentage (.475). Evans is second on the team in scoring (10.5 ppg) and leads the squad in rebounding (6.8 rpg). Cody Ellis is also in double figures (10.3 ppg) and is connecting at 91.1 percent from the foul line, which is second-best in the A-10. Guard Jordair Jett is averaging nine points per affair and is leading the Billikens in both assists and steals. Senior forward Cory Remekun is shooting 63.6 percent from the field, which is tops in the A-10.
Rhode Island has won the last four meetings going back to the 2009-10 season, but the Billikens have been hot at home and should ease past the Rams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Louis 69, Rhode Island 53
01/19 10:40:11 ET
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