Saint Louis welcomes red-hot and No. 13-ranked Dayton to Chaifetz Arena on Friday with an opportunity to make a significant statement in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Saint Louis (14-3, 3-1) won its third straight game Saturday, scoring a big road win over surprising Richmond 74-58. The Billikens sit a game-and-a-half off the lead in the top-heavy A-10 race, despite losing their conference opener to Duquesne on Jan. 2.
Duquesne is one of three teams in the league without a loss, joining St. Bonaventure and Dayton.
The Flyers (15-2, 4-0) won their sixth straight on Tuesday, dominating preseason A-10 favorite VCU 79-65. Dayton broke a 41-41 tie in the early second half with a 22-0 run to blow the game open.
Forward Obi Toppin continued his breakout season with 24 points and nine rebounds, despite having worn a walking boot earlier in the week after re-aggravating an ankle sprain last Saturday against Massachusetts.
"After I got that first dunk, I knew I was gonna be good after that," Toppin told the Dayton Daily News following Tuesday's win.
Toppin comes into Friday's matchup averaging 19.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, and building a strong case for National Player of the Year consideration.
Saint Louis counters Toppin's dual scoring and rebounding ability with a pair of similarly skilled players.
Billikens guard Jordan Goodwin and forward Hasahn French are the only teammates in the nation averaging a double-double. French is posting 12.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, while Goodwin contributed to his 16.1-point and 10.5-rebound per game averages in the win over Richmond with 26 points and nine rebounds.
"Coming in, me and Jordan talked about these things even before we stepped on campus," French told KSDK NBC in St. Louis last week. "We just knew these things would come and we had to be patient.
"We knew if we stayed working and things like that this would happen."
The duo also help power a Saint Louis defense that ranks just outside the nation's top 50 in adjusted efficiency, per KenPom.com. French ranks No. 17 nationally in blocked shots per game at 2.8, and Goodwin is No. 28 in the country with 2.2 steals per game.
Dayton in contrast boasts one of the most effective offenses in college basketball. The Flyers rank second in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom.com metrics, with four players beyond Toppin averaging double figures in scoring.
Jalen Crutcher is posting 13.3 points per game, Ibi Watson averages 11.5, Trey Landers is posting 11.1 and Ryan Mikesell averages 10.4.
The Flyers also rank second in the nation in team assists with 327. Almost 63 percent of their made baskets are assisted. Crutcher's 5.2 per game lead the way.
"As efficient as we can be, when we get shots, we're really good," coach Anthony Grant said to the Dayton Daily News. "We just need to make sure we're giving ourselves a chance to get a shot every possession."
--Field Level Media