T. LOUIS -- The rain of 3-pointers Massachusetts coach John Calipari braced himself for came too late to make a difference.
"I'm glad we were 10 points up with 14 seconds to go and not three up," Calipari said Thursday night after the fourth-ranked Minutemen beat Saint Louis 80-74. "They would have found some way to put it in from the rafters."
Lou Roe had 29 points and eight rebounds as Massachusetts ended Saint Louis' 22-game home winning streak with relative ease. Massachusetts held a double-figure lead most of the game before the Billikens made it close when it was too late to matter.
Massachusetts, which held the #1 spot for one week earlier in the season, now has a path to return to the top with the Nos. 1-3 teams all losing either Wednesday or Thursday night.
Saint Louis was 9-for-18 from 3-point range in the second half and Scott Highmark got all 12 of his points in the final 6:06, but Massachusetts didn't seem to notice.
"We hit some shots but it was too late," Highmark said. "I was non-existent for 34 minutes."
On the other hand, Roe was a presence from the start.
Massachusetts (7-1) played without 6-foot-11 Marcus Camby, who didn't make the trip due to the death of his grandmother. The Minutemen didn't seem to miss him too much as they outrebounded Saint Louis 39-38 and blocked five shots in the second half to seal the victory.
Roe was 10-for-15 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free throw line.
"We missed him," Roe said of Camby. "We thought about him during the game. And we showed him -- and I'm sure he was watching, that we've got people who can pick him up."
Saint Louis' tallest starters are David Robinson and Donnie Campbell, both 6-6, and the Billikens had nobody who could cover Roe.
"He was on a roll, filling it," Robinson said. "It looked like everything was going in. He hit some nice shots."
Mike Williams added 18 points in 23 minutes off the bench for Massachusetts and Donta Bright had 13 points.
Erwin Claggett scored 18 points despite an off-game for Saint Louis (8-1), facing its first tough competition of the season. The Billikens had been winning by an average of 25.5 points against the likes of Missouri-Kansas City, Bethune-Cookman and Sacramento State.
"When you play someone like this you usually come out better," Saint Louis coach Charlie Spoonhour said. "You learn from these. We're going to have to get some toughness."
Massachusetts has 73 blocked shots in eight games, including an Atlantic 10 Conference-record 20 -- one short of the NCAA record -- in a 95-65 victory over West Virginia on Tuesday. Saint Louis was forced outside its normal range and shot just 36.2 percent (25-for-69), its worst mark of the season.
Temple defeated Marquette 69-57 in the first game of the doubleheader between teams from the Great Midwest and Atlantic 10 conferences. The games drew a crowd of 21,879, a record for the new Kiel Center and the largest attendance for an indoor event in St. Louis.
Claggett hit two 3-pointers in the final half-minute to cut the deficit to the final margin. Entering the game Claggett had gone 23-for-36 from 3-point range in his three previous games. He was 5-for-13 from 3-point range against Massachusetts but only 6-for-20 overall.
"I wasn't pressing," Claggett said. "I took a couple of bad shots in the first half, but when in doubt, keep shooting."
David Robinson added 13 points -- all in the first half -- for Saint Louis, while H Waldman and Carl Turner had 11 apiece.
Massachusetts outmuscled Saint Louis inside in the first half to take a 41-29 lead. The Minutemen also showed their outside touch, getting 3-pointers from Dana Dingle and Williams during a 14-2 run that put them ahead 26-13 with 7:59 left.
|Massachusetts Minutemen (#4)||80|
|St. Louis Billikens||74|
|at the Kiel Center, St. Louis, MO|