Majerus sticks with nine-man rotation
Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus had started the same five players every game through Jan. 14, but that doesn't mean he lacks confidence in the guys coming off his bench.
"We've gotten into a nine-man rotation," Majerus said. "Cody Ellis would be considered a starter, but I bring him in off the bench.
"It's trying to get lineups to match, lineups to go against other teams' lineups. And part of it is a fatigue factor. For whatever reason, we don't have players that are capable of playing extended minutes at a great rate."
Only one player, guard Kwamain Mitchell, was playing as much as 30 minutes a game. Forward Brian Conklin, the leading scorer and No. 2 rebounder, was averaging just over 29 minutes an appearance.
No other starter was averaging as many as 25 minutes, and two subs, Ellis and Jordair Jett, are usually on the floor for more than half the game.
"I can probably be held accountable for that somewhat, too," Majerus said. "But we have played with this nine men, and most of the time it has served us well."
Can't argue much with that.
The Billikens were 14-4 through Jan. 14 and were grouped with four others teams at 2-2 in the Atlantic 10 Conference behind one-loss teams Massachusetts, Dayton, Xavier, La Salle and Richmond.
The comeback from a 14-point, first-half deficit against Charlotte was the biggest rally for Saint Louis since the Billikens came from 18 down in last season's 69-64 win over Jacksonville.
One thing that was not typical of Saint Louis' recent play was the number of turnovers for the Billikens in their win at Charlotte. They had 17, matching a season high, after going into the game with an average of 10.9 for the season.
G Kwamain Mitchell and G Kyle Cassity had four turnovers each, and F Brian Conklin had three.
By winning at Charlotte, Saint Louis won on the road for the first time since prevailing at Southern Illinois on Nov. 15. The Billikens had lost their last three games (Loyola Marymount, New Mexico and Dayton) on an opponent's court.
56.4 -- Though the Billikens had given up 72 points to Temple and 67 to Charlotte their last two games through Jan. 14, they still were limiting their opponents to just 56.4 points a game, tops in the Atlantic 10. La Salle was No. 2, yielding 63.4 points a game.
"We were somewhat careless. We stepped out of bounds on a couple of occasions, and some of the turnovers were for screens or charges. In those cases, I reviewed those, and those are what I call turnovers of commission or good errors. But you've got to credit excellent defense by Charlotte for causing the turnovers." -- Coach Rick Majerus, after the Billikens made 17 turnovers in the win over Charlotte.
vs. Duquesne, Jan. 21
The Dukes get after teams on defense. They also will have G/F B.J. Monteiro back from a hand injury, and he'll bolster their offense. Pounding the ball inside to F Brian Conklin should pay dividends for the Billikens.
Sophomore G Mike McCall made up for a scoreless game in the loss to Temple by scoring 16 points at Charlotte. After playing just 11 minutes against the Owls, he played 30 against the 49ers, the second time in his last four games he had been on the floor over 30 minutes. He played a season-high 31 against Dayton and came back with 25 against George Washington. He gives Saint Louis another backcourt scoring option off the bench to go along with Jordair Jett.
Junior F Cody Ellis came off the bench to lead Saint Louis in scoring with 17 points in the win at Charlotte. He was 6-for-12 from the floor (3-for-7 on 3-pointers). He had only 14 points in the previous two games combined.
Senior F Brian Conklin scored 14 points against Charlotte, his sixth game in double figures in his last seven outings.
Junior G Kwamain Mitchell had scored in double figures in five consecutive games after scoring 13 against the 49ers. He was 9-for-14 from 3-point range in the last three games through Jan. 14.