Feb 28, 2012, 1:30 PM EST
St. Louis’ nice little roll came to an end Saturday when it lost to A-10 cellar dweller Rhode Island. Instead of entering the final week of the regular season tied atop the conference with Temple, the Billikens are game behind with two to play.
That sets up the biggest Senior Night St. Louis has seen in years.
Comes against a dangerous opponent, too.
The Billikens (22-6, 10-4) play host to Xavier (18-10, 9-5) a team desperate to finish strong and earn its seventh straight trip to the NCAA tournament. A St. Louis win would not only cement its at-large NCAA tournament hopes, but ensure Temple won’t be able to cruise to the A-10 title.
Not bad for a program that hasn’t been to the NCAAs in years despite the hiring of Rick Majerus in 2007 They’ve been waiting for moments like these. Now’s when we’ll see how seniors like Brian Conklin and Kyle Cassity respond.
“There’s been a lot of learning, a lot of ups and downs, some great times, sometimes I wish I could take back. I can’t complain,” Conklin said. “We keep moving forward and this year, we’ve become a great team.”
“It’s been a roller coaster, that’s for sure,” Cassity said. “Now, this is why we’re here, why we put in the time, to play like we’re playing now, minus last week. This is what Coach (Rick Majerus) envisioned, it’s why Coach came here. I hope we can finish and do what everybody wants to do.”
The season isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot. But rebounding from its worst game of the season would be a healthy start for St. Louis.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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