TSX Majerus isn't happy about energy drop-off

Rick Majerus

The Sports Xchange dissects the upcoming week for Saint Louis at Chaifetz Arena.

Saint Louis built its reputation on defense early in the season, when the Billikens won 12 of 14 games in the first two months.

But the Billikens' defense took a step backward Jan. 28 in the team's 72-59 loss at Massachusetts.

Saint Louis not only lost by double digits for the first time, but it saw the Minutemen shoot 65.5 percent from the field in the first half on their way to 50 percent shooting for the game.

"Basically, it's energy, effort and wanting to play," coach Rick Majerus said when asked what the difference has been recently. "We were trumped in that category by UMass."

The loss dropped the Billikens to 4-3 in the Atlantic 10 Conference and 16-5 overall heading into two home games to open February.

St. Bonaventure, one of three teams tied for the league lead, visits on Feb. 1, and then Saint Louis entertains a Dayton team that just dropped out of a tie for first.

NOTES, QUOTES

Conklin plays through pain

--Senior F Brian Conklin, Saint Louis' leading scorer, injured his ankle Jan. 27, and he did not start at Massachusetts the next day. He did play 34 minutes, however, and he led the Billikens with 17 points.

"He's really warriored up," coach Rick Majerus said. "He really wanted to play. It's his senior year. He's getting married in July, and the countdown is on for him. He's a great kid and loves to play.

"I probably erred in letting him play. I love his heart so much. I think he played more with his heart, and I let him affect my heart. I didn't make that decision with my head."

There is a bit of a wait-and-see aspect to Conklin's immediate availability. With his approach to the game, however, it would be surprising if he weren't on the court when the Billikens take on St. Bonaventure.

"I'd much rather have a guy who I've got to try to rein in than someone I've got to try to motivate," Majerus said.

--In a bit of a reversal of what might be expected, Saint Louis managed only 16 points off the 19 turnovers it forced against UMass, but the Minutemen cashed in 19 points off of the Billikens' 15 turnovers.

--The 72 points the Billikens gave up to UMass marked just the fourth time Saint Louis has allowed an opponent to reach the 70-point mark this season. The Billikens had lost all four of those games (Loyola Marymount, Dayton, Temple and UMass).

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