Busting Brackets

St Louis Basketball: Takeaways from Billikens falling short at Minnesota

DAYTON, OH - FEBRUARY 08: Head coach Travis Ford of the Saint Louis Billikens is seen during the game against the Dayton Flyers at UD Arena on February 8, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
DAYTON, OH - FEBRUARY 08: Head coach Travis Ford of the Saint Louis Billikens is seen during the game against the Dayton Flyers at UD Arena on February 8, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Saint Louis Basketball falls to Minnesota. The loss could keep them out of the top 25 for yet another week.

Coming into Sunday night, Saint Louis Basketball looked destined to be awarded a well-deserved rank in the top 25 today however, the Golden Gophers had other plans. In what was originally a tightly contested game at halftime, the Billikens struggled to convert from behind the three-point line and continued to foul shooters increasing the free throw discrepancy.

These two facets of the game shifted the momentum in the second half and all but guaranteed the Billikens their first loss of the season.

Three-Point Shooting

In their first six games, the team was shooting 44% from behind the three-point line. Even though their team does not live and die behind the arc, shooting above 40 percent as a team from behind the line helps open up the floor for other offensive opportunities.

Tonight, the Billikens were unable to find any type of rhythm from the three-point line. Shooting 2/15 in the game, which translates to 15%, put unnecessary pressure on the team to find offense from inside the three-point line and made it hard to cut into Minnesota’s lead in the second half.

Despite dominating points in the paint 56-22, the Golden Gophers converted far more efficiently from behind the arc and watched their lead grow. As the lead ballooned to double digits the Billikens had no chance of shooting their way out of the deficit and did not have the game plan or playstyle to keep up without a consistent three-point shot.

Yet, even though they may have struggled against Minnesota this will not be a trend for the Billikens moving forward. While the loss to the Golden Gophers may force them to wait another week to enter the top 25, they have proved that they are not only a top team in their conference but in the country.

Moving forward, Travis Ford and company should continue to capitalize on their strengths and play their game. While the Billikens poor three-point shooting may have been one of the key factors that doomed them tonight, every team has poor shooting nights and nobody should be hitting the panic button based on their previous six games. If this poor shooting from behind the arc were to continue it could derail an extremely promising season for St. Louis.

Shooting Fouls

The Billikens could not stop committing shooting fouls tonight. It seemed that almost every foul they committed ended up in free throws for Minnesota and that certainly could spell disaster moving forward. The foul discrepancy in the game only tells part of the story because the Billikens were committing situational fouls at the end of the game.

During the first half and the majority of the second half, the foul calls were almost dead even yet the Gophers shot an extra twenty-two free throws during the game. The difference between 12/17 (St. Louis) and 34/41 (Minnesota) tells the story of the game. For the points that the Golden Gophers lacked in the paint, it seems that they made up for at the free throw line.

St. Louis struggled to defend without fouling the man with the ball and it ended up contributing in a major way to the scoreboard. It felt like St. Louis dominated every other aspect of the game but fouling the shooter on what felt like every chance they had sunk them.

Outrebounding Minnesota on both ends, converting more second-chance points, attempting 29 more field goals, turning the ball over less, and also assisting on more made shots was still not enough to overcome their lack of defensive discipline when the Gophers were shooting the ball.

If St. Louis wants any chance to compete in March they will have to make sure that defending without fouling becomes a priority in every game moving forward. If the Billikens can’t find discipline on the defensive end they could struggle in their conference and may never see the top 25.

Overall, the silver lining for the Billikens and their fans is that this game seems like an outlier in comparison to the rest of the season. Statistically, the team has performed in every game prior to this and shots just weren’t falling tonight.

Even if the Billikens shot 33% from behind the arc, which is 11% lower than their current team average they would have had a better chance to win the game. On the defensive end, it will be hard to find another game this year when a team shoots 41 free throws period, especially against St. Louis. The team will continue to develop a defensive identity and find the discipline to defend without fouling.

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They have hovered outside the top 25 for the last three weeks and will stay there as they enter conference play. If they can continue to play their game and succeed in conference play they will have no problem competing come March.