ST. LOUIS – No. 4-seed Saint Louis easily defeated New Mexico State on Thursday afternoon, and now turns its attention to the No. 12-seed Oregon Ducks. BillikenReport.com’s Ben Weixlmann breaks down three keys to the game for SLU as it looks to advance to the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis next week:
SLU must win the turnover margin battle
The Billikens rank in the Top 50 in both fewest turnovers (11.4 per game) and most turnovers forced (15.3 per game). Oregon, on the other hand, forces 15.5 turnovers per game, but is very prone to cough up the rock itself, averaging 15 giveaways per contest. Ducks’ phenom point guard Dominic Artis missed two games at the end of January, and they turned the ball over more than 20 times on both occasions. SLU will need to use its Top 15 scoring defense (57.7 ppg) to stymy the Ducks and influence them into poor decisions.
Can the Billikens take advantage isolation opportunities?
With players such as Kwamain Mitchell, Jordair Jett, and Dwayne Evans that have shown the ability to take defenders off the dribble and score at the rim, SLU will need to make the most of its one-on-one opportunities. The Bills have been excellent this season in such situations — according to Synergy Sports, SLU has scored at least one point on 41.6 percent of isolation possessions. Meanwhile, Oregon doesn’t defend isos very well, ranking in the 40th percentile in the nation.
SLU must keep Oregon off the boards
Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi has been a beast on the glass all year, averaging nearly 10 rebounds per game. SLU junior forward Rob Loe and Evans will likely draw the defensive assignments on the six-foot-seven Kazemi. In the Round of 64 matchup against Oklahoma State, he ripped down 17 boards. In addition, Wake Forest transfer Tony Woods is a six-foot-11 jumping jack that will attack the offensive glass with ferocity.
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