St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the Atlantic 10 Conference's best are set for a Wednesday night showdown at Chaifetz Arena, as the 19th-ranked Saint Louis Billikens play host to the Richmond Spiders.
Since dropping its A-10 opener a few weeks back at St. Bonaventure (84-70), Richmond has ripped off four straight wins to climbed to 14-6 overall and 4-1 in the league, locked up in a four-way tie for second place with Massachusetts, George Washington and VCU. The Spiders most recently took care of business at home versus Saint Joseph's on Saturday, 77-62.
While several teams share the honor of being the A-10's second-best team, Saint Louis sits alone in first place with a 5-0 conference mark and has been one of the nation's hottest teams with 12 straight wins overall. The Billikens suffered a scare at Duquesne last Wednesday but escaped with a 76-72 victory, and now they return home, where they've gone 10-1 at Chaifetz Arena.
Saint Louis has beaten Richmond in the last two meetings to improve its standing in the all-time series to 6-4.
The Spiders carried a seven-point lead into the halftime locker room in their most recent game versus Saint Joseph's and never had their advantage threatened in the second stanza on their way to a 15-point victory. They shot 47.9 percent from the field, including a lofty 10-of-22 from 3-point range, and outscored the Hawks from the free-throw line, 21-4. Leading five players in double figures was Kendall Anthony with 19 points, while Trey Davis tallied a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds, Cedrick Lindsay scored 16 points and Deion Taylor (11 points) and Terry Allen (10) were both impressive off the bench.
Richmond's offensive output this season has been modest at best, as it shoots 44.2 percent from the field for 69.6 ppg, but it has been more than enough to support its excellent scoring defense (64.7 ppg). Lindsay is one of the A-10's elite playmakers with 18.5 ppg and nearly twice as many assists (78) as turnovers (40). Anthony brings 14.0 ppg to the table with a large portion of his production coming from 3-point range (51-of-136).
The Billikens battled through six ties and 19 lead changes in their latest contest and even trailed by two in the final minute before taking the lead for good on an Austin McBroom 3-pointer and holding on down the stretch for the nail-biting victory. Their patented stout defense was noticeably absent, as they allowed Duquesne to drain 50 percent of its field goal tries, but they shot 50 percent themselves, including 10-of-19 from beyond the arc. Jordair tallied 10 points and 11 assists, while Mike McCall, Jr. (13 points), Grandy Glaze (12), McBroom (11) and Rob Loe (10) were also active in the well-rounded effort.
The sub par defensive showing barely made a dent on Saint Louis' elite scoring defense, which ranks eighth nationally in allowing just 58.8 ppg. It scores more than enough on the other end of the floor to support it (70.4 ppg). Dwayne Evans is the catalyst with team highs in scoring (15.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg), while shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 103- of-136 from the foul line (.757). Jett (12.2 ppg, 5.0 apg) is the only other player averaging in double figures, but five others net at least 5.0 ppg.