NT, SLU Hoops Meet In Wake Of Majerus Passing
FSN-Midwest Hosting NT vs. SLU Wednesday Night
North Texas (3-5, 0-1 SBC) vs. Saint Louis (4-3, 0-0 A10)
Dec. 5, 2012 • 7:00 p.m.
St. Louis, Mo. • Chaifetz Arena (10,600)
Radio: MGRN - 88.1 KNTU-FM, 95.3 KHYI-FM
TV: FSN Midwest
Series: SLU leads 28-9 • Streak: NT won three straight
Last Meeting: NT won 84-70 at SLU on 12/11/81
DENTON, Texas – Two old Missouri Valley foes, North Texas and Saint Louis, will meet up in the Gateway City on Wednesday evening in the wake of the tragic loss of a coaching icon.
Rick Majerus, the Billikens’ head coach since 2007, passed away on Saturday following a health battle that forced him to take a leave of absence prior to the season. In 25 years as a collegiate head coach, he posted an overall record of 517-216. In five seasons at SLU, the Billikens went 95-69, and he led them to the NCAA Tournament Third Round in 2012 – SLU’s first tournament victory since 1998.
Jim Crews has taken the helm in Majerus’ stead. Serving as the interim since August, Crews entered the season with 354 head coaching victories after stays at Army (2003-10) and Evansville (1985-02). Crews played for Bob Knight at Indiana from 1972-76. His senior year in 1975-76, the Hoosiers went 32-0 and won the national title. They remain the last team to finish a season with an undefeated record.
SLU is coming off a fantastic season, which included a 26-8 record (12-4 in A-10 play) and a trip to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. No. 9 SLU knocked off No. 8 Memphis, 61-54, before falling to No. 1 Michigan State, 65-61. The Billikens return four starters, and were tabbed to finish second in the A-10 Preseason Poll behind only VCU. Senior guard Kwamain Mitchell was named a Preseason First-Team All-Conference selection, while junior guard Jordair Jett was named to the preseason All-Defensive team.
It might be a little tough to glean much from the all-time series record between NT and St. Louis since the last meeting was in 1981 - long before a player on either team was born. Still, SLU leads the series 28-9, but the Mean Green has taken all three meetings since NT left the Missouri Valley Conference following the 1975 season.
With 93 career swats, Tony Mitchell jumped past his former teammate Kedrick Hogans (91 blocks, 2008-12) for third place in NT history. Mitchell has at least two blocks in each of the last 12 games. The sophomore is only 26 blocks shy of the school career record (119 - Jeffrey Simpson, 2004-06) despite playing in just 31 career games.
Justin Patton, who had arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 25, had a breakout game against Louisiana on Saturday. The senior poured in eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, and added three steals in just 10 minutes. Patton, the SWAC’s leading rebounder in his final season at Grambling State (7.1 RPG in 2010-11), describes his knee’s recovery process as “90 percent”.