Brian Conklin makes all seven shots as Saint Louis drubs Portland

ST. LOUIS -- Portland lost by 24 to top-ranked Kentucky last week. Pilots coach Eric Reveno believes Saint Louis (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) is better.

"We've played some good teams and they're the most skilled and toughest team that we've probably played in terms of execution and just good basketball," Reveno said after Saint Louis' 73-53 victory on Saturday night.

"Would they win at Kentucky? I'm not going to say that. Looking at them I'm thinking 'That's a good team,' and unfortunately they're doing it to us."

Brian Conklin made all seven of his shots with a strong inside game and scored 19 points, helping Saint Louis beat Portland 73-53 in its first home game as a ranked team since 1994 on Saturday night.

"It always helps when you don't miss," Conklin said.

Cody Ellis had 16 points off the bench and Kyle Cassity and Mike McCall added 10 apiece for the Billikens (7-1), who had a 25-3 run in the first half and led by 26 early in the second. Those three combined for Saint Louis' seven 3-pointers, with Cassity going 3 for 5.

"The 3s were big," coach Rick Majerus said. "We had the right people taking them, too. We were patient."

The Billikens could drop out of the Top 25 after losing at Loyola Marymount on Tuesday night in their fourth game in six days, but have a good chance to beef up the record with the next five also at home against beatable opponents.

"We couldn't really care less about rankings," Ellis said. "We've got to come out and play the same way whether we're 23rd or 300th in the country. Play the same every game."

Majerus blamed fatigue for Saint Louis' lone loss and thought players still were a bit weary. It didn't show on the court.

"I felt like I had my legs back," Conklin said. "We went short but hard the last couple practices leading up to this game, it was more just a mental game, focusing on what we needed to do strategy-wise.

"We know we can run up and down the floor, we know we can put the ball in the basket."

Thomas van der Mars had 12 points before fouling out with 6:30 remaining for Portland (3-5), which has lost five of six. Nemanja Mitrovic, the Pilots' leading scorer with an 11.9-point average, was held to two points on 1-for-6 shooting.

Ellis, Saint Louis' sixth man, didn't play a minute due to defensive concerns in the school's loss at Loyola Marymount.

"Over the offseason, during preseason, defense has been the main emphasis of what I needed to improve on," Ellis said. "I'm getting more minutes because I'm able to defend people now."

Portland committed 12 of its 16 turnovers in the first half, and also missed five of its first six from the free throw line. Portland's 16 first-half points and the final total were both season worsts.

All five of Saint Louis' first-half 3-pointers came in the 25-3 run that made it 37-12 with just under 2 minutes to go, and the Billikens led 38-16 at the break.

Portland was in it the first 10½ minutes, trailing 12-9, but was down 37-12 after Mike McCall's 3-pointer with 1:52 to go. The Pilots were 1 for 6 at the free throw line, committed 12 turnovers and got off only 17 shots against Saint Louis' half-court pressure.

"They found their offensive footing sooner than we did," Reveno said. "The bottom kind of fell out a little bit and they just got really comfortable."

Portland had one turnover the first eight minutes of the second half, helping cut the deficit to 15 at 50-35. Ryan Nicholas and Tanner Riley added 11 apiece for the Pilots.