For all the talk about UMass and VCU this season, might the Atlantic 10 title still run through St. Louis?
It certainly looked like it on Saturday afternoon, as the Billikens went into Dayton and smacked around the Flyers, winning 67-59 in a game that where Jim Crews’ club had a double-digit lead for much of the second half.
Dwayne Evans was fantastic as usual, finishing with 22 points and nine boards on 9-for-11 shooting from the floor. Jordair Jett added 12 points and five assists while Austin McBroom chipped in with 17 off the bench, but as always, the story of this game was on the defensive end of the floor.
Dayton shot 30.6% from the floor. Devin Oliver, Dayton’s second-leading scorer, was 0-for-12 from the field and didn’t score a single points.
You see, there isn’t a team in the country as good as Saint Louis at taking teams out of what they want to do offensively. They don’t bring full-court pressure and they’re not really the kind of a defense that will trap you to death, but they are disciplined, they rotate extremely well and they know how to play to the scouting report.
That’s part of the reason the Billikens are so tough on the road. They will win games even when they don’t play well offensively. That’s why they are a nation’s best 6-0 on the road this season.
Still haven’t sold you on the Billikens yet? How about this: they are now 15-2 on the season with their only losses coming against Wisconsin and Wichita State, two teams that have yet to lose to anyone this season.
St. Louis can play.
Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.
The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.