Saint Louis at Seton Hall
When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 17, Prudential Center, Newark, N.J., 8 p.m. EST.
After being served a dose of humble pie in the Gavitt Games, Seton Hall looks to regroup at home Saturday night versus Saint Louis.
Billikens set for first road test of season
Saint Louis (3-0) has not started a season with four victories since 2015-16, but Travis Ford’s team has a chance to match that mark after sweeping its season-opening homestand.
The Billikens capped that three-game run with a 69-58 win over North Alabama on Tuesday night. Javon Bess had 16 points and 10 rebounds, leading four players in double figures in scoring while posting his eighth career double-double.
— SLU Men's Basketball (@SaintLouisMBB) November 14, 2018
Afterwards, Ford expressed pleasure with his defense, but he is waiting for the offense to catch up. The Billikens are shooting a woeful 23.9 percent (16 for 67) from 3-point range and struggling from the foul line at 56.5 percent.
“I kept talking to the team about never going on a run,” coach Travis Ford told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Our defense was good enough to go on runs. … We’re not rewarding ourselves. We have to put the ball in the hole. We have to execute better. When you’re not totally fluid offensively or making shots, you have to figure out ways to win.”
Bess and Tramaine Isabell shared the team lead in scoring at 15.0 points per game, and Jordan Goodwin is also in double figures at 10.0 per contest. Saint Louis has five players with at least six assists and has a 1.64 assist-to-turnover ratio.
This is just Ford’s third true road game against a major conference opponent, and the other two did not end well last season with losses at Butler and Oregon State. Saint Louis has lost 26 of its last 28 such road games, with the victories coming at Washington in 2000 and Vanderbilt in 2013.
Pirates try to rebound after loss to Huskers
Seton Hall’s growing pains after losing four starters from last season were laid bare with an 80-57 defeat at Nebraska in the Gavitt Games on Wednesday night.
As was the case in its season-opening win, Myles Powell paced the offense with 24 points, but the Pirates gave him little help aside from Michael Nzei — who added 13 points and nine rebounds — as the team shot 35.6 percent.
MP has eclipsed 20 points for a 2nd straight game. He’s got 22 but we trail 63-51 with 7:35 to play. #HALLin
— Seton Hall Basketball (@SetonHallMBB) November 15, 2018
Powell and Nzei are the only players to score in double figures for Seton Hall, which has yet to get a significant contribution from forward Taurean Thompson. The 6-foot-11 sophomore, who sat out last season after transferring from Syracuse, has more fouls (8) than points (7) thus far, and coach Kevin Willard is trying to figure out how to get Thompson more involved.
“We’re trying to get Taurean to be a little more of an inside presence. That’s my biggest struggle right now,” Willard told the Asbury Park Press. “We’ve got to get someone who really wants to be down there (so we can) get the ball down there.
“I’ve got to figure out a way to hide him a little bit defensively and keep him a little bit more engaged offensively. He’s so talented when he goes to the rim and attacks, he has to get into that mentality. That’s something that will be a work in progress.”
The Pirates split two games against Atlantic 10 opponents last season, losing 75-74 to Rhode Island at a neutral site and drilling VCU at home 90-67.
Seton Hall is:
- 1-4 ATS in its last five games following an ATS loss.
- No trends of note.
Saint Louis is:
- 14-5 ATS in its last 19 games as a road underdog.
- 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games following an ATS loss.
- 4-1 ATS in its last five games as a road underdog between 0.5 and 6.5 points.
- The under is 19-6-1 in its last 26 road games.
- The under is 10-4 in its last 14 games.
- The under is 5-0 in its last five games following three or more consecutive home games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
There is some concern with this pick because Saint Louis did not beat a murderers’ row of opponents — a 62-58 victory over Troy qualifies as the best one of the three. Ford’s comments about his offense also give reason to pause, but this is also a senior-dominated lineup that should not get rattled in this game and have a strong chance to win this game outright.
For Seton Hall, Powell needs someone besides Nzei to step up offensively. If Thompson is not that answer, Willard needs to consider moving on quickly because teams are already scouting to shut down Powell or at least let him get his while stifling everyone else.
Prediction: Pick: Saint Louis +6.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The under is the play in this contest with the Billikens struggling from the perimeter plus a solid defense facing a Seton Hall team that has yet to find a scoring option beyond Powell and Nzei. It would be surprising to see the winner clear 70 points in this contest.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 137.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
This is the first game for the Pirates in their usual home court of the Prudential Center — they played their opener at Walsh Gym. That should provide a little bit of a jump for them to grab a halftime lead versus a Saint Louis team that has averaged 30.0 points in the first half of its last two games.
Prediction: Pick: Seton Hall -3.5
Half-Time Total Bet
This game has the feel of a defensive struggle, with the Billikens unable to get their perimeter shooting going, and Seton Hall trying to find a secondary offensive option. Thirty points might be enough to lead at halftime of this one.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 63.5 points