Saint Louis Billikens guard Mike McCall Jr. (11) Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
By: Keith Kuetemann
(KSDK Sports) -- The SLU Billikens open up Atlantic-10 conference play when the University of Massachusetts Minutemen come into St. Louis on Thursday night.
SLU, with a record of 11-3, sit just above UMASS in the A-10 standings (10-3), but this match-up between conference rivals should be as competitive as any we've seen all year.
Both teams are riding considerable winning streaks into Thursday's clash at Chaifetz. The Bills will be looking for SLU's first 9-game win streak since the school won 14 straight during the 1993-'94 season. The Minutemen will be putting a 7-game win streak of their own on the line Thursday night.
Both teams have stand-out players who should have big impacts on Thursday night's outcome.
Junior guard Mike McCall Jr. has been the leader of this Billikens team all season long. Much more than just the team leader in points per game (12.1), McCall Jr. has been the vocal leader, the offensive "quarterback", so to speak, calling plays and setting up the offense. Without McCall, this offense simply doesn't work.
The Minutemen counter McCall Jr. with a premiere junior guard of their own. His name is Chaz Williams and he is, arguably, the most productive guard in the entire A-10 Conference. He leads his team in points per game (15.5) and steals (25) and leads the entire Conference with 7.4 assists per game. Last season, Williams rode his 16.9 point per game production to a 1st Team All-Conference nod.
While Williams will certainly be garnering the majority of the Bills' defensive attention, he shouldn't garner it all.
The Minutemen boast another top-notch guard by the name of Jesse Morgan. Morgan scores at a 14.5 point-per-game clip and leads UMASS players with 37 3-pointers. Look for the Williams-Morgan combination to be the focus of this Minutemen offense.
The Billikens and Minutemen tip-off on Thursday night at 8 PM with a 1-0 Conference record and an impressive win-streak to be had by the winner. Expect an intense contest.