Matchup Preview: SLU-Alabama State

After taking a break for finals, will SLU be ready for a challenge against '10-'11 NCAA Tournament participant Alabama State?

PG: Kwamain Mitchell vs. Jeffery Middlebrooks Mitchell is the engine that makes things go for the Saint Louis Billikens (9-1). He's slowly finding his rhythm after a year out of the game, and is third on the team in scoring at 12.4 ppg. Middlebrooks dishes out an impressive 4.5 assists per contest, but adds just a shade over four points per game for the Hornets (2-6). He shoots an abysmal 25 percent from the field and 46 percent from the free throw line.

Heavy edge: Saint Louis

SG: Kyle Cassity vs. Tramaine Butler Cassity hasn't compiled the offense numbers that folks were accustomed to seeing last year, but he's been way more efficient in the 2011-12 campaign. He boasts a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and is adding 6.6 ppg. Butler, on the other hand, is the second-leading scorer for the Hornets at 11.8 ppg. He takes a lot of shots, and makes a rather low percentage. ASU will need Butler to catch fire in order to keep this game close.

Moderate edge: Saint Louis

F: Dwayne Evans vs. Kenderek Washington

Evans ended his freshman year on a tear, and since he no longer needs to fill a major role, his scoring has declined to under six points per game. That being said, he's grabbing 5.8 rpg and has rounded into a very solid defender. He'll have a tough task matching up with Washington. The 6-foot-4 guard/forward will likely get several defensive looks, including Cassity. He can shoot it from deep and clean the glass, and he's the Hornets' leading scorer.

Slight edge: Alabama State

F: Brian Conklin vs. Ivory White

Conklin is one of the most improved players in all of college basketball this season. He's leading SLU in scoring at 16 ppg and has asserted himself much more on both ends of the floor. The Hornets don't have much size, and they sometimes will play a four-out offense. White, 6-foot-4, gets the task of guarding Conklin. He's got a sweet stroke and can bomb it from behind the arc, much like Washington. Conklin will need to get out and cover him on the perimeter.

Slight edge: Saint Louis

F: Rob Loe vs. Luther Page

Yet another height mistmatch for the Billikens, but this one won't likely be noticed as much. Loe is a perimeter presence despite his near 7-foot frame. Page is much smaller, but can work inside and is active on the defensive end. This should be an interesting matchup for both teams.

Matchup: Even

Bench:

SLU's second leading scorer, Cody Ellis, has yet to start a game, but he's been incredibly important to their success. Mike McCall and Jordair Jett form a solid backcourt in case Mitchell finds himself in foul trouble. Unfortunately for the Hornets, the same can't be said. Most of their damage is done by the starting five.

Heavy edge: Saint Louis

The Skinny:

ASU's 2-6 is not necessarily indicative of them as a team. They made the NCAA Tournament last year and return several members from the squad. They have played at Marshall and Cincinnati and have been at home just twice this season. It'll be tough sledding though, to come into Chaifetz Arena on Saturday and defeat one of the Atlantic 10's best teams.

Prediction:

Saint Louis 66, Alabama State 43


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