Ranked 24th nationally, the Saint Louis Billikens have won ten straight games since losing to Wichita State on December 1. How have they done it? Primarily due to a defense that has been absolutely stifling in the half court, while also limiting opponents’ opportunities to get out in the open floor. Limiting teams to 38.7% shooting from the field and 25.1% from three, Jim Crews’ team leads the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency according to kenpom.com.
With those defensive credentials Saint Louis will look to move to 4-0 in Atlantic 10 play Saturday afternoon when they take on Fordham at Chaifetz Arena (2:30 p.m. EST) in the second of three games to air this weekend on NBC Sports Network. Tom Pecora’s Rams are 7-9 on the season and 0-3 in conference play, but in guards Branden Frazier and Jon Severe he’s got one of the highest scoring perimeter tandems in the country.
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The senior Frazier and freshman Severe combine to average 39.9 points per game, with sophomore guard Mandell Thomas contributing 12.8 points as their third scorer. As a team Fordham’s scoring more than 76 points per game, but they’ve been doing so despite shooting just 40.4% from the field. Tempo’s been key for both teams in this matchup and that will once again be the case, with Fordham having greater success when they find shots within the first ten seconds of a possession per hoop-math.com.
Clearly this is a game the Billikens should win, with Dwayne Evans II and Jordair Jett leading the way offensively for a team that has five players scoring at least eight points per game. Things may not always look pretty offensively for Saint Louis, but when a team’s as good as the Billikens are defensively those offensive issues can be accounted for. And with their upcoming schedule, Saint Louis has the potential to rack up the wins ahead of their two-game swing through Philadelphia in early February (at Saint Joseph’s on February 5, at La Salle on February 8).
Also slated to air on NBCSN is an Atlantic 10 battle between George Mason and Rhode Island (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. EST), with both teams in need of a win. The Patriots (1-3 Atlantic 10) allowed one to slip away on Wednesday night against No. 16 UMass, falling 88-87 in a game they looked poised to win before a late Minutemen rally. As for the Rams, they’re still winless in conference play (0-4) and with games against Saint Joseph’s and Dayton next on the schedule Dan Hurley’s team needs to defend its home floor.
On Sunday afternoon (3:30 p.m. EST) Towson visits College of Charleston in a key CAA contest, with the Tigers being the preseason favorite to win the league due in large part to the presence of forward Jerrelle Benimon.
After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.
Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.
“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”
According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”
With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.
Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.
Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.
The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.
“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.
“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”
A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?
Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.
Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.
The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.
According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.
John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.
The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.
Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.
Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.
Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.