Jan 31, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Saint Louis Billikens guard Jordair Jett (5) is congratulated by fans after their 75-58 victory over the Butler Bulldogs at the Chaifetz Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Continuing their quest for the Atlantic 10 Conference regular- season title, the 18th-ranked Saint Louis Billikens head to the nation's capitol to challenge the George Washington Colonials.
With only three games remaining in the regular season, Saint Louis (22-5, 11-2) is a game up on second-place VCU (22-6, 10-3). The Billikens have won their last 10 games, including a 70-53 decision against visiting Saint Joseph's on Wednesday night. SLU is 5-2 in true road games this season, with all five wins coming against conference foes.
George Washington comes in two games below .500 (12-14), and nearly even in A-10 action (6-7). The Colonials are hoping to stop a two-game losing streak, with their most recent setback occurring at Richmond on Wednesday night, 73-64. Overall, GW has dropped four of its last five, and the team is hoping to move above the break-even point at home, as it owns a 6-6 mark at the Smith Center this season.
George Washington owns a narrow 5-4 lead in the all-time series with Saint Louis, and the home team has won each and every meeting.
Balance on offense, and stifling defensive pressure have been the keys to the Billikens' success this season. The team averages 68.7 ppg, with three players netting double figures on a consistent basis, led by Dwayne Evans and his 12.3 ppg. Evans is also SLU's leading rebounder with 7.0 rpg, and he is shooting 51.8 percent from the field and converting 75.0 percent of his free throws. Cody Ellis (10.7 ppg) and Mike McCall, Jr. (10.3 ppg) serves as solid complements, the duo combining for 89 of the team's 169 3-pointers. Defensively, the Billikens are yielding just 57.9 ppg, and they own a +4 turnover margin. Evans was high man once again for Saint Louis in the recent win over Saint Joseph's, logging a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds, whole Rob Loe tacked on 11 points and six boards, and McCall, Jr. chipped in with 10 points and five assists. SLU shot just 41.1 percent from the floor, but held the Hawks to 32.6 percent efficiency, which included a dismal 3-of-17 effort from beyond the arc.
George Washington has been rather vanilla at the offensive end of the court this season, the team averaging 65.7 ppg in dropping 43.9 percent of its total shots, but just 29.1 percent of its long-range bombs. On defense, the Colonials permit an average of 63.8 ppg, with foes shooting 40.9 percent from the field, which includes a 35.2 percent showing from beyond the arc. A +4.7 rebounding margin has helped the team's overall effort, but it is guilty of more than 16 turnovers per outing and has only one double-digit scorer on the roster at present. Isaiah Armwood is averaging 11.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game to pace the club in both categories, but Lasan Kromah (9.7 ppg) and Patricio Garino (9.5 ppg) are hot on his heels, at least in terms of scoring. Kevin Larsen scored 16 points and Kethan Savage notched 12 more, but those efforts went for naught as GW fell by nine at Richmond earlier this week. The Colonials lost the game despite shooting 53.7 percent from the field, mostly because they missed five of their six 3-point tries, and committed a whopping 22 turnovers.
GW is certainly going to put forth maximum effort in an attempt to spoil SLU's chances at winning the A-10 title, but the Colonials don't have the offensive firepower to knock off the Billikens, even if they are playing this one in front of a partisan crowd.