The TSX Files - Jan. 14

The Sports Xchange provides news, notes and quotes on Saint Louis University basketball.

GETTING INSIDE

Freshman Cody Ellis has played only two games for Saint Louis, but it's increasingly apparent he's going to play a big role for the team, even if he did miss the first two months of the season.

With each game, Saint Louis is giving Ellis a little more to do as he slowly becomes more familiar with the team's offense on defense. After scoring 10 points in 23 minutes in his first game, Ellis, a 6-foot-8 forward from Australia whose arrival was delayed by the NCAA eligibility center, had 14 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes in Saint Louis' 79-75 double-overtime win at Duquesne on Wednesday. Next up for Saint Louis is a game at Charlotte on Sunday.

The limiting factor will continue to be how much of Saint Louis' game plan Ellis has learned in short time he's been in America.

"A lot of times I'm sitting there thinking, does Cody know this play?" Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus said. "The kid got here 10 days ago."

Concerns about Ellis' fitness seem to be diminished, even if he had gone months without playing a competitive game. It's clear Saint Louis has confidence in Ellis. At the end of regulation and in the first overtime against Duquesne, it was Ellis who took the final shot. (He missed both.)

"When he tightens his body and gets more acclimated to the American game, I think he's going to be a real good player," Majerus said. "He's got good instincts. He understands the game."

SAINT LOUIS 79, DUQUESNE 75 (2 OT): Saint Louis jumped out to a seven-point lead at the start of the second overtime and then made just enough free throws to get its first road win of the season and snap a five-game road losing streak. Kwamain Mitchell scored 19 points and Kyle Cassity scored 15 as Saint Louis (11-5, 2-0 Atlantic 10) came back from nine points down early in the second half. Three consecutive missed free throws by Christian Salecich, the team's top foul shooter, led to some anxious moments, as Duquesne, down by nine with 80 seconds to play, got within three points before Mitchell made three free throws to seal the win.

NOTES, QUOTES

-- Freshman forward Cody Ellis made his collegiate debut Jan. 9 and had an immediate impact in Saint Louis' 63-58 victory over Richmond in its Atlantic 10 opener. Ellis had 10 points, five rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes of reserve duty.

Ellis was the top player in Saint Louis' recruiting class. However, he remained in his native Australia during the first semester and missed the season's first 14 games while waiting for the NCAA to rule him eligible.

Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus gave Ellis the option of taking a redshirt and made it clear that he hoped he would go that route. However, Ellis was eager to play and showed he was ready to contribute.

"He brings in another thing to our team," Saint Louis guard Kwamain Mitchell told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He can pick and pop and hit the open three. He can set good, tough screens. He's running the floor well. I don't see him struggling up and down the floor."

-- Saint Louis is 25-8 at home in conference games since joining the Atlantic 10 in 2005-06.

-- Saint Louis is 29-4 when it holds opponents under 60 points during Rick Majerus' three seasons as coach.

ON THE SPOT:

F Cody Ellis is being counted on to provide scoring and rebounding in a reserve role after sitting out the first 14 games of his freshman season while awaiting the NCAA to rule on his eligibility. The Australian had a fine debut Jan. 9 as he had 10 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench in a 63-58 victory over Richmond in the Billikens' Atlantic 10 opener.

QUOTE TO NOTE:

"Being Cody's sensei, I'm happy with my little grasshopper there." — Saint Louis F Brian Conklin, who was asked to take Ellis under his wing.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SEASON RECAP:

Saint Louis won its first four games but then split its last 10 non-conference games. However, the Billikens beat Richmond in their conference opener, which also marked the debut F Cody Ellis, a highly touted freshman who waited in his native Australia until being ruled eligible by the NCAA.

PLAYER ROTATION:

Usual Starters -- F Brian Conklin, F Willie Reed, G Kwamain Mitchell, G Christian Salecich, G Femi John. Key Subs -- G Kyle Cassity, G Justin Jordan, F Jon Smith, F Cory Remekun, F Cody Ellis.

GAME REVIEW:

Saint Louis 60, Eastern Illinois 42
Bowling Green 59, Saint Louis 50
Saint Louis 63, Richmond 58
Saint Louis 79, Duquesne 75 (2 OT)

GAME PREVIEW:

at Charlotte, Sunday, Jan. 17
vs. Fordham, Wednesday, Jan. 20
at George Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 27
at Richmond, Saturday, Jan. 30

IN FOCUS:

Saint Louis won just two road games last season, and the win over Duquesne was its first this season. The Billikens had come out flat in previous road games, falling behind quickly and then spending most of the contests trying to catch up. Saint Louis came out aggressively against Duquesne, but it will be a challenge against Charlotte, as Saint Louis flies home Thursday and then back out Friday for the game.

ROSTER REPORT:

F Willie Reed returned to the Saint Louis lineup against Duquesne after sitting out the Richmond game for violating team rules. Reed didn't start the game, but started both overtime periods and finished with nine points and four rebounds.

G Kyle Cassity's 15 points Wednesday, on 6-of-7 shooting, were his most since the third game of the season. Cassity had seen his playing time decline in recent games, but he played 46 of the 50 minutes against Duquesne.

Freshman F Jon Smith's athleticism continues to stand out in limited minutes. He had eight rebounds and four blocked shots Wednesday in just 19 minutes of playing time. His two blocked shots early in the second half started the 11-0 run that brought Saint Louis back from nine points down and put the Billikens in front.


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