Chaifetz Arena Gives Billikens An Edge

Rick Majerus (AP photo)

Charlotte's Bobby Lutz has coached against Saint Louis for so long that he remembers all the names that the Billikens' former home used to be called. He also realizes Chaifetz Arena, which opened on campus at the start of last season, gives Saint Louis a big home-court advantage.

"Scotttrade or Savvis or Kiel or whatever they called it, it was a cavernous place," Lutz told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Now they have a great facility with a great atmosphere. The student's are engaged. It's the perfect size. It's a great home court."

The Billikens have gone 29-5 at Chaifetz, including 15-2 this season, as they are 19-9 overall and 10-5 in the Atlantic 10. Their only two home losses this season have been to Missouri State and Xavier.

"It's a great college basketball facility," Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. "They did everything right. I'm not sure Saint Louis ever had a home court where it felt at home playing in that other building. There's another thing: Sometimes people talk about how hard it is to play in a certain place but it's also because the team is good. Saint Louis is really good."

The Billikens will get to play one last regular-season home game when nationally-ranked Temple comes to town on Wednesday. Saint Louis then finishes on the road at Dayton on March 6.

NOTES, QUOTES

- Saint Louis has set the single-season school record for blocked shots with 143. F Willie Reed's 58 blocks leads the team.

- Saint Louis has won 10 conference games this season, equaling their best most victories since joining the Atlantic 10 in 2005-06. The Billikens went 10-6 in their first season after moving from Conference USA.

ON THE SPOT:

Reed is an undoubtedly an inside presence but teams are learning to foul him late in close games. He is just a 48.9 percent free throw shooter this season, making 68 of 139 attempts.

QUOTE TO NOTE:

"We practice them. It's not something we don't focus on. Part of it is nerves." -- G Kyle Cassity on Saint Louis shooting just 61.4 percent from the free throw line this season.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SEASON RECAP:

Saint Louis won its first four games, lost its next three then won seven of nine before losing three of four. The Billikens has since won seven of their last eight to improve to 19-9, 10-4 in the Atlantic 10. G Kwamain Mitchell is averaging 16.3 points and 3.0 assists, F Willie Reed is averaging 11.9 points and 8.2 rebounds and F Cody Ellis has an 11.2 scoring average.

PLAYER ROTATION:

Usual starters -- F Willie Reed, F Cody Ellis, G Kyle Cassity, G Kwamain Mitchell, G Christian Salecich. Key subs -- G Justin Jordan, F Brian Conklin, F Cory Remekun.

GAME REVIEW:

Saint Louis 69, Massachusetts 56
Xavier 73, Saint Louis 71
Saint Louis 69, Duquesne 59

GAME PREVIEW:

vs. Temple, Wednesday, March 3
at Dayton, Saturday, March 6

IN FOCUS:

Saint Louis is 0-4 against Temple since joining the Atlantic 10 in 2005, including a 65-40 road loss last season. Saint Louis shot 30 percent from the field, including 13 percent from three-point range, and was outrebounded 38-22. Lavoy Allen led Temple with 16 points and Craig Williams added 11.

ROSTER REPORT:

- F Cody Ellis was named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week for the week ending Feb. 27 as he averaged 14.3 points and made eight three-point field goals in three games. Ellis scored 14 points in a 69-56 victory at Massachusetts on Feb. 21, 19 points in a 73-71 loss to Xavier on Feb. 24 and 10 points in a 69-59 victory over Duquesne on Feb. 27.

- F Willie Reed had his seventh double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds against Xavier. That is the most double-doubles by a Saint Louis player since 1995-96.

- F Jon Smith has all but disappeared in recent weeks, Since being relegated to the bench after starting five straight games, Smith is averaging just 5.7 minutes in six games.

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