Saint Louis Billikens guard Kwamain Mitchell (3) drives the ball up-court during the game against the Memphis Tigers during the second round in the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
(KSDK Sports) -- The Saint Louis Billikens try to continue their season-long winning streak on Friday night when they play host to the SIU Edwardsville Cougars at Chaifetz Arena, and SLU will have Senior guard Kwamain Mitchell in the line up.
SIUE is coming off its first pair of back-to-back wins all season, defeating Eureka on Dec. 17 (77-74) and Robert Morris-Springfield on Dec. 19 (81-49). Despite their mini run, the Cougars are still just 4-5 on the season, which includes losses in all four of their contests outside of Edwardsville.
Saint Louis is in the midst of a nine-game homestand, and so far it has taken full advantage with five straight wins since a 66-61 loss at Washington on Nov. 28, most recently downing Loyola Marymount last Saturday, 65-44. The streak has bumped the Billikens up to 8-3, with four of those triumphs coming by 20 points or more.
The Billikens have won six of the seven all-time matchups with the Cougars, but the teams haven't met since 1983.
Even though it came against a lower-level opponent, SIUE is coming off its most dominating performance of the season as it shot lofty percentages from the field (.521) and the foul line (.862) in its 32-point victory. Kris Davis and Michael Messer paced the balanced effort with 15 points apiece, while Jerome Jones and Derian Shaffer added 13 and 11 points, respectively. The offensive effort this season for the Cougars hasn't nearly been as smooth, as they make just 41.3 percent of their field goal attempts for 63.7 ppg. Jones is one of the Ohio Valley Conference's most potent scorers (16.4 ppg) thanks in large part to an outstanding showing from beyond the arc, as he makes nearly three treys per game at a 43.4 percent clip. Davis (10.3 ppg) and Messer (10.0 ppg) are also consistent contributors.
The scoring output for Saint Louis has been modest at best, as it makes 45.9 percent of its field goal attempts for 66.2 ppg, but it has ridden its recent wave of success thanks to an outstanding effort at the defensive end of the court where it holds opponents to a mere 56.7 ppg. The defensive performance was spectacular once again in the blowout win over Loyola Marymount, which shot just 34.0 percent from the floor, including 2-of-14 from 3-point range. Pacing four Billikens in double figures was Mike McCall, Jr., who hit four of the team's eight long-range tallies on his way to 14 points. Jordair Jett and Jake Barnett each scored 11 points, while Dwayne Evans added 10 points, nine rebounds and two steals. Evans is Saint Louis' leading scorer (12.2 ppg) and rebounder (6.8 rpg) through 11 games, shooting a lofty 56.4 percent from the field in the process. More than half of McCall Jr.'s (11.4 ppg) and Cody Ellis' (10.8 ppg) buckets have come from beyond the arc, and Jett (9.6 ppg) hands out a team-best 4.1 apg.
SIUE is riding a nice streak of late, but it's nothing compared to the run Saint Louis is on. The Cougars have benefited from playing sub par opponents in recent weeks, so they'll likely come crashing back to Earth in this one playing on the road against one of the nation's hottest teams.