Virginia Commonwealth and Butler have taken the biggest share of the national spotlight of teams in the Atlantic 10 this season. Newcomers to the league having so much success and finding their way in the national polls will do that.
But with first place in the conference (at least for the time being) on the line Tuesday, Saint Louis defended its home floor and made a statement with a 76-62 win over VCU at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Mo.
VCU and coach Shaka Smart have built their success on the effectiveness of the “Havoc” defense, forcing turnovers and translating those miscues into points. In response to that Tuesday, Saint Louis turned the ball over just eight times and shot 55 percent from the floor. The Billikens forced VCU to foul and converted 17-of-23 shots from the free throw line.
Ultimately, it comes down to toughness, experience, and defense for the Billikens, which is why they are built to compete down the stretch in the A-10 race and even the NCAA tournament. They handled VCU with poise, while flipping the script and forcing the Rams into rushed shots, bad possessions, and a long night overall. A VCU team that averages close to 80 points per game was held to just 62.
They did the same to No. 9 Butler earlier in the year. The big question will be, can they do it again? Saint Louis travels to Butler for a big-time matchup Friday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Arizona State fans won’t get a chance to see Torian Graham take the floor this season, but he did sky over fellow teammates (and transfer) Shannon Evans on Friday night at the team’s Maroon and Gold Madness. The 6-foot-4 Graham is a former Buffalo commit — Evans also came from Buffalo — and both players will have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer regulations.
Graham hasn’t had a chance to get into a Division I game, but he’ll be able to play for the Sun Devils next season. For now, fans can look forward to Graham’s athleticism on the wing in pregame dunk routines.
A former top-100 prospect, Graham also pulled off this ridiculous move in the dunk contest.
Kansas head coach Bill Self is known for being unique for the annual Late Night at the Phog and this season, he went with some parody videos centered around the recent DirecTV ads. In the two skits, Self plays himself — which acknowledges his many accolades — while playing alongside “short shorts Bill Self” and “graduate assistant Bill Self”.
Hard to say if these videos top Self showing up in a suit like Andrew Wiggins last year, but there do have good promotional value for the program and Self.
Kansas players also had their chance to shine, with both men’s and women’s teams doing dances. Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor also attempted to lip sync to Michael Jackson. Freshman forward Carlton Bragg showed some solid ability on the piano, which got the crowd going. Bragg was also one of the strong points in a scrimmage.