Saint Louis (5-1) vs. Old Dominion (4-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 27, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Aventura Palace Convention Center -- Cancun, Mexico. Television: None. Home Record: SLU 3-0, Old Dominion 4-1. Away Record: SLU 2-0, Old Dominion 0-0. Neutral Record: SLU 0-1, Old Dominion 0-1. Conference Record: SLU 0-0, Old Dominion 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Aventura Palace Convention Center will be the site for a consolation round matchup of the Cancun Challenge when the Old Dominion Monarchs meet the Saint Louis Billikens.
In Tuesday's semifinals the Monarchs were defeated in a 78-60 decision against West Virginia. The setback ended a four-game winning streak for the Monarchs, who topped Georgia Southern (86-69) and Presbyterian (69-61) rather easily during the round robin section of the tournament a week ago.
The Billikens were engaged in a defensive battle with 10th-ranked Wisconsin on Tuesday but lost the semifinal bout by a count of 63-57. The loss is the first blemish on the campaign for the Billikens. Saint Louis opened the year with five-straight victories, including triumphs over Oral Roberts (72-55) and Bowling Green (74-47) during regional play of the tournament.
This matchup will mark the first time these two teams have battled on the hardwood.
Saint Louis was able to fight its way back from a 15-point deficit in the second half against Wisconsin, but fell short in the end due to poor shooting. The Billikens connected on only 32.8 percent of their field goal tries and were outscored, 17-11, from the free-throw line in the losing effort.
As they were last season, the Billikens have been a difficult team for opponents to deal with on the defensive end. Saint Louis is allowing only 59 points per game while foes are connecting on just over 40 percent of their attempts from the field. Unlike the Monarchs, the Billikens do not have a scorer so prolific as Bacote but there are three double figure scorers on the roster. Dwayne Evans (13.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) is the leading scorer on the team. Evans cored 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting before fouling out against Wisconsin. Elsewhere, Mike McCall Jr (11.4 ppg) and Jordair Jett (10.3 ppg, 4.5 apg) can also fill it up, though Jett is more important for his ability to distribute. None of the three managed to top Rob Loe (9.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg) on Tuesday as the 6-foot-11 forward had a team-high 15 points.
Even though Old Dominion was the dominant team on the interior, holding edge on the boards (35-28) and scoring in the paint (30-26), the Monarchs couldn't get past West Virginia. The difference was in shooting as the Monarchs netted just 39 percent from the floor while the Mountaineers turned in a 56-percent effort.
Aaron Bacote's offensive assault continued in the losing effort as he dropped in 20 points. It was the fifth time this season Bacote (21.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.3 apg) has reached the 20-point mark in a game. However Bacote was not immune to the cold shooting that plagued the Monarchs, as he hit just 8-of-21 shots from the field on Tuesday. Dimitri Batten (12.5 ppg) is the second leading scorer on the roster. Batten fit that bill once again on Tuesday with 14 points on a more efficient 6-of-11 shooting. Richard Ross (10.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg) can also score but is more important for his work on the glass.
With how disruptive the Billikens are on defense they will be able to keep Bacote out of a rhythm and force the Monarchs other scorers to make plays. If that strategy proves successful it will not lead to pleasant results for Old Dominion.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Louis 73, Old Dominion 57
11/27 10:41:02 ET