Billikens look forward to big night against visiting Dukes

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Updated: 2/27 10:08 am

St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - The 10th-ranked Saint Louis Billikens go in search of their 20th straight victory, as they welcome the Duquesne Dukes to Chaifetz Arena for an Atlantic 10 Conference clash on Thursday night.

Duquesne comes in sporting a lackluster 11-15 overall record, which includes a 3-10 league ledger. The Dukes have lost back-to-back games, the most recent of which occurring at home last Saturday against Dayton (57-54), and they've actually dropped six of their last seven overall. DU is 5-6 in true road games this season.

Saint Louis is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won a school- record 19 consecutive games. A 66-59 home triumph over George Washington last Saturday was their most recent, and that win improved the Billikens to 25-2 overall, 12-0 in conference, and 14-1 in front of the hometown faithful. SLU, which will have only three games left on the schedule after tonight, can claim a share of the Atlantic 10 regular-season title with a win over Duquesne, as it is up by three games in the loss column over second-place Saint Joseph's.

These two teams met in Pittsburgh on Jan. 22, and the Billikens won that game in a 76-72 final. As a result, Saint Louis leads the all-time series, 10-7.

For the season, Duquesne is averaging 73.5 ppg in hitting 43.9 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 35.8 percent effort from 3-point land. Defensively, the club is yielding 74 ppg, with foes shooting 46 percent from the floor, while dropping 40.3 percent of their long-range launches. A-10 foes have done even better from distance (.431). Despite their struggles, the Dukes are fortunate to have one of the top scorers in the conference on the roster, as Ovie Soko is putting up 18.5 ppg while also spearheading the team's rebounding effort with 7.9 rpg. Micah Mason is the only other DU player averaging double digits, but he nets only 10.1 ppg.

As per usual, Soko was high man for Duquesne in its recent loss to Dayton, as he went 9-of-13 from the floor in tallying a game-high 26 points. He was the only player to reach double figures for the Dukes, who shot just 33.9 percent from the floor, despite knocking down 10-of-25 3-point tries. Dayton logged a 42-32 rebounding advantage, and outscored the Dukes in the paint (22-12).

Saint Louis is one of the more dominant defensive teams in the country, ranking 12th with an average yield of only 59.9 ppg. Their .391 field goal percentage defense has it 15th, and foes are shooting a paltry 26.6 percent from 3-point range. From an offensive standpoint, the Billikens net 71.1 ppg, which actually ranks in the bottom half of the A-10, and the team boasts a slew of solid contributors rather than relying on one or two stars. Dwayne Evans (14.3 ppg), Jordair Jett (13.8 ppg) and Rob Loe (10.2 ppg) are all averaging double digits in the scoring column, while two others (Mike McCall, Jr. and Austin McBroom) are close to joining the ranks. Evans (6.3 rpg) paces the club's effort on the glass, while Jett (5.0 apg) serves as its primary playmaker.

Jett hit for 16 points, Loe had 12 and Grandy Glaze chipped in 10 for the Billikens in their recent win over visiting George Washington. Jett also added four helpers and a pair of steals, while Loe came up a rebound shy of notching a double-double. The team as a whole shot 48 percent from the field, despite missing the mark on 13 of its 16 3-point attempts. As for the Colonials, they made good on only 32.8 percent of their total shots, which included a 4-of-17 showing from beyond the arc.

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