George Washington-Saint Louis Preview
After sweating out three straight close calls, Saint Louis braces for what figures to be another difficult test against a 20-win Atlantic 10 opponent.
The 10th-ranked Billikens look to extend the longest winning streak in school history while moving to 12-0 in league play for the first time Saturday night against George Washington.
While Saint Louis (24-2, 11-0) has won 18 consecutive games by an average of 11.0 points, it has beaten LaSalle, Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason by a combined eight in its last three.
Jordair Jett had 24 of his 25 points after halftime Wednesday against the Patriots, while Rob Loe sank a pair of 3-pointers in overtime to help the Billikens preserve the nation's third-longest streak with an 89-85 road win.
"It's not a game of perfect, just like life," coach Jim Crews said after his squad's second overtime win over last-place George Mason this month. "We fall way short. I fall way short. We just try to do the next right thing, and our guys have a good ability to do that."
Playing in the top 10 for the first time in nearly 50 years, the Billikens are also off to the best overall start in school history. With a victory in this matchup, they can top the program's best league start - set in the 1946-47 season when they were in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Billikens, who have won 48 of 53 at home, may have to put up a better effort defensively - and on the glass - if they hope to pick up their 11th straight win at Chaifetz Arena.
They rank 12th nationally with 59.9 points allowed per game and have a plus-2.4 rebounding margin, but surrendered a season-worst 73 points in regulation and were outrebounded 37-30 overall in Wednesday's win.
George Washington (20-6, 8-4) could give the A-10 leaders trouble in those areas, leading the conference with a plus-4.7 rebounding margin and ranking fourth with 74.5 points per game. The Colonials held a 45-33 edge on the boards while snapping a two-game skid with a 73-65 win at Richmond on Tuesday.
Maurice Creek led the way with 16 points, Isaiah Armwood and Joe McDonald added 14 apiece as the Colonials reached 20 wins for the first time since 2006-07. Creek posts a team-high 14.1 points per game, and Armwood averages a team-best 8.4 rebounds.
Kevin Larsen, who pulls down 7.2 boards per contest, was the only starter to score in double figures with 14 in a 66-58 home loss to Saint Louis on March 2, 2013.
Dwayne Evans led the Billikens with 22 points and 12 boards in that meeting, and had 19 and 11 in a 78-56 win in the most recent meeting at Chaifetz Arena on Jan. 7, 2012.
While Evans averages a team-high 14.7 points overall, Jett ranks second among A-10 players with an 18.1 scoring average in conference games.
"It's hard to win on the road, especially in this league," Colonials coach Mike Lonergan said. "We have to make sure we go and play well in Saint Louis. Hopefully, we can get a nice upset win against a nationally ranked team."
George Washington had dropped 15 straight versus ranked opponents before knocking off then-No. 20 Creighton 60-53 in the third-place game of the Wooden Legacy on Dec. 1.
The Colonials have lost four all-time visits to Saint Louis by an average of 15.3 points.