Saint Louis (11-2) at Vanderbilt (7-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 30, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Gymnasium (14,316) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Saint Louis 7-1, Vanderbilt 5-0. Away Record: Saint Louis 3-0, Vanderbilt 0-2. Neutral Record: Saint Louis 1-1, Vanderbilt 2-1. Conference Record: Saint Louis 0-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Series Record: Vanderbilt leads, 5-3.
GAME NOTES: The Saint Louis Billikens will take their five-game winning streak on the road on Monday night, as they square off with the Vanderbilt Commodores in a non-conference showdown at Memorial Gymnasium.
Since losing to nationally-ranked Wichita State on Dec. 1 (70-65), Saint Louis has reeled off five consecutive victories, already its second such winning streak this season. The Billikens most recently claimed a 79-57 triumph over North Carolina A&T on Dec. 21 to close out a three-game homestand, and they carry confidence into this matchup after winning each of their first three true road games.
Vanderbilt comes into this bout with a winning streak of its own, having claimed three games in a row to climb to 7-3 on the season. The Commodores bested Georgia Tech on Dec. 21, 76-63, to remain unbeaten at Memorial Gymnasium in five tries.
The Commodores lead the all-time series with Saint Louis, 5-3, but the Billikens won the latest meeting in December of 1997, 78-74.
Although the Billikens shot just 41.8 percent from the floor in their most recent game, they still cruised to a 22-point victory by holding NC A&T to under 34 percent shooting (including 1-of-12 from 3-point range) and outscoring it at the free-throw line, 25-16. Dwayne Evans was outstanding in the triumph, tallying a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Mike McCall Jr. netted 13 points, Rob Loe scored 12 points and blocked four shots, while Austin McBroom came off the bench to score 10.
Saint Louis has been solid offensively this season, pouring in 72.2 ppg, but the biggest reason for its success has been its stout play on the other end of the floor, as it ranks in the top-10 nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 58.4 ppg. Evans is the catalyst, posting 15.9 ppg and 5.9 rpg while shooting 48.4 percent from the floor. Jordair Jett (10.5 ppg) has more than twice as many assists (60) than turnovers (26), while McCall and Loe each register 9.7 ppg and more than a steal per contest.
Vanderbilt played a strong all-around game against an impressive Georgia Tech squad in its latest contest, outshooting the Yellow Jackets from the field, 50 percent to 38.5 percent, en route to the 13-point home victory. Rod Odom was nearly flawless on his way to 18 points, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor (including 4-of-5 from 3-point range) and 2-of-2 from the foul line. Dai-Jon Parker scored 13 points, and Kyle Fuller provided a spark off the bench with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists.
On the season, the Commodores are an efficient offensive club, shooting 46.5 percent from the field for 72.2 ppg, but their 3-point percentage (.335) is below average. They also even the playing field by boasting a lackluster -3.3 turnover margin. Eric McClellan scores a team-high 14.8 ppg, but that number could be even higher had he not struggled at the free-throw line (44-of-75, .587). Rod Odom contributes 13.3 ppg and a team-high 5.4 rpg, and Fuller, despite shooting less than 40 percent from the field, helps out with 10.0 ppg and 3.4 apg.
Despite Vanderbilt's impressive play in Nashville this season, it has yet to host a team as strong as Saint Louis. As one of the nation's best defensive teams, the Billikens should be able to cause trouble for a Commodores squad that has had turnover problems.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Louis 66, Vanderbilt 59
12/30 10:52:04 ET