La Salle (21-7) at (16) Saint Louis (23-6)
Saturday, March 9, 1:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Chaifetz Arena (10,600) -- St. Louis. Missouri. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: La Salle 13-2, Saint Louis 16-2. Away Record: La Salle 8-5, Saint Louis 6-3. Neutral Record: La Salle 0-0, Saint Louis 1-1. Conference Record: La Salle 11-4, Saint Louis 12-3. Series Record: Saint Louis leads, 9-6.
GAME NOTES: The La Salle Explorers hit the road one last time as they challenge the 16th-ranked Saint Louis Billikens at Chaifetz Arena on Saturday afternoon in the regular-season finale for both Atlantic 10 Conference clubs.
La Salle has enjoyed an outstanding season, logging a 21-7 overall record, which includes an 11-4 mark in A-10 action. The Explorers are just a game behind both Saint Louis and VCU in the conference standings, so there is a chance they could earn a share of the regular-season title if they were to topple the Billikens and the Rams were to lose at Temple on Sunday. La Salle has won three straight and seven of its last eight games, the most recent of which being an 84-70 verdict at home over George Washington on Wednesday.
Saint Louis has been one the real surprises in college basketball this season, the team sporting a stellar 23-6 overall record along with a 12-3 league ledger. The Billikens enter this fray having dropped a 77-66 overtime decision at Xavier earlier in the week, that loss stopping what had been a substantial 11-game win streak. SLU is 16-2 at home this year, and it has won its last five bouts played at Chaifetz Arena.
Saint Louis owns a 9-6 lead in the all-time series with La Salle, but the Explorers have won the last two times they've played on the Billikens' home floor. The visiting team has won five of the last six meetings.
La Salle is getting it done primarily due to its exploits at the offensive end of the court, as the team boasts four double-digit scorers en route to 73.6 ppg. Defensively, it yields 65.4 ppg while forcing nearly 15 turnover per game. The Explorers are in the negative when it comes to rebounding differential (-2.1), but they are shooting eight percentage points higher than the opposition from 3-point range (.380 to .300). Ramon Galloway (17.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.8 apg) spearheads the team's scoring effort, while also producing in other areas, and Tyreek Duren (15.0 ppg, 3.5 apg) lends help in the backcourt, while Jerrell Wright (10.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) handles things up front. Galloway hit for 29 points, Duren added 19, Wright had 16 and Tyrone Garland chipped in 12 for the Explorers in their recent win over George Washington. The team shot a sizzling 60.9 percent from the field, which included a 12- of-22 effort from beyond the arc, and 16-of-18 at the free throw line, but it allowed the Colonials to connect on 55.2 percent of their total shots, although they missed seven of their eight 3-point tries. La Salle was outrebounded, 28-17, and outscored in the paint (54-26), but took advantage of 16 GW miscues.
Saint Louis is getting it done at both ends of the court as well, putting up 68.6 ppg while surrendering just 58.5 ppg. The team is almost dead even in the rebounding department, but it averages only 11.1 turnovers per outing while goading the opposition into 15.0 giveaways per game. The team has three players currently averaging double digits in the scoring column, with Dwayne Evans leading the way with his 12.8 ppg. Evans isn't a one-trick pony, as he grabs a club-best 7.2 rpg, while ranking second in blocked shots with 22. Cody Ellis nets 10.3 ppg despite coming off the bench in all 29 games, and Mike McCall, Jr. contributes 10.1 ppg. Jordair Jett (9.9 ppg) and Kwamain Mitchell (9.7 ppg) are close to joining the mix, and it was Mitchell who was high man for the Billikens in their recent loss at Xavier, as he hit for 17 points. Evans scored 16 and grabbed nine boards, while McCall, Jr. chipped in with 14 points and Jett finished with 10. SLU shot just 30.1 percent from the floor, going 7-of-30 from distance along the way.
Both of these teams have assured themselves of favorable seeds in the upcoming A-10 Tournament, and each is likely headed to the NCAA Tournament as well, but there is still something to be played for as the regular-season conference crown is up for grabs. Expect the Explorers to play hard, but for the Billikens to prevail at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Louis 64, La Salle 61
03/09 10:33:40 ET