Preview: SLU-Richmond

SLU (20-5, 8-3) begins a two-game homestand tonight against Richmond (13-13, 4-7).

Tonight marks the beginning of perhaps the easiest week SLU will have all year in-conference.

The Billikens are in good shape for an NCAA Tournament berth, and with rebuilding Richmond and the lowly Fordham Rams coming to town this weekend, SLU has a real chance to create separation the Atlantic 10 standings.

There isn't anyone on the Spiders who sticks out as being an all-league player, but Kendall Anthony, Darien Brothers, and Derrick Williams all contribute heavily.

After losing 5,737 points to graduation, the Spiders have experienced some growing pains. UR easily handled conference leader Temple at home on Jan. 14, but haven't been able to catch a streak of wins since.

Stat to watch: Richmond shoots 21.7 free throws per game, and shoots it at a 76.6 percent clip (8th in the nation). If SLU fouls excessively, it may find itself in a nailbiter.

Prediction: SLU 73, Richmond 59. Why? Williams, who I believe has been a big key to the Spiders' success this season, could have trouble against a much more experienced Brian Conklin on the interior. After watching tape, Williams is incredibly active in the post, but is often too overzealous. Conklin will likely be able to bait Williams into early foul trouble. Brothers, who can get hot in streaks, will be facing one of the best collective team defenses in all of college basketball. He'll get his points, but likely won't go off for 30-plus. SLU's defensive pressure is going to be key. UR averages just 11 turnovers per contest, which leads the Atlantic 10. If the Billikens can get out in the passing angles, that number could be much higher this evening. Lastly, Anthony, the freshman sensation, shoots north of 43 percent from three-point land. Kwamain Mitchell will matchup with Anthony very well, and Jordair Jett should produce defensive pressure off the bench against the quick and elusive guard.

Miscellaneous thought: Anthony needs just two points to tie Dan Geriot for third on UR's freshman scoring list. He has already scored more as a freshman than Johnny Newman and Kevin Anderson (1st and 2nd on the all-time career scoring list).

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