CINCINNATI (AP) -So cool in the closing minutes, No. 14 Xavier has done a poor job of handling pressure the rest of the time.
On Wednesday night, the pressure will really be on.
The Musketeers (20-3, 8-1) will have their inexperienced guards in the grip of Dayton's pressure defense when they play one of the Atlantic 10's premier games at UD Arena. The Flyers (21-3, 7-2) have as good a chance as anyone to expose Xavier's biggest weakness.
All too often, the Musketeers don't know where to go with the ball.
``They press after every shot,'' senior forward B.J. Raymond said Tuesday. ``They do a good job of pressuring the point guard and giving the point guard different looks. They make it really hard.''
A victory by the Musketeers would leave them in line for their third straight Atlantic 10 regular-season title. An upset by the Flyers would leave the race wide-open. A freshman point guard who's struggling will have a lot to do with how it turns out.
a sprained left foot, the same one that had a stress fracture earlier in the season. In his last two games, Holloway has had eight turnovers and only three assists.
Holloway didn't have an assist in a 72-68 loss at Duquesne on Saturday night that ended Xavier's 11-game winning streak.
``He's not going to go where he is (now) as a player to having all the answers,'' coach Sean Miller said. ``But there's a lot of basketball left. A lot of times, freshmen can really hit their stride in February. Once you get through that first eight or nine games in conference play, freshmen sometimes settle in.''
Three freshmen - Holloway, 3-point specialist Brad Redford and 7-foot-center Kenny Frease - had settled into roles during the 11-game winning streak. Holloway is struggling again, and Frease sprained his right ankle during the loss at Duquesne, limiting him to four minutes. Miller doesn't know if he'll be able to play at Dayton.
Both teams are coming off losses set up by defensive lapses. Dayton lost at Charlotte 79-66 on Sunday, the second time this season that the Flyers have moved to within one spot of the Top 25, only to lose.
``We've been successful because of our defense and rebounding,'' coach Brian Gregory said in his weekly conference call. ``When we don't do those two things, we're going to have a hard time against anybody. There's no magic formula. We're a simple team when we come to that.''
The Flyers need a win to keep them in contention for the A10 title. The Musketeers need to avoid falling into another loss-induced funk. They won their first nine games and moved up to No. 7 in the rankings before losing to Duke 82-64. They hadn't gotten over that one when then-unranked Butler visited the Cintas Center three days later and beat them.
``I feel that we learned our lesson after the Duke game carrying over to the Butler game,'' Raymond said. ``We learned from that Butler game. We know that we need to bring it and that we don't need to be thinking about, 'Wow, man, we just lost to Duquesne.' That's over and done with.''
Xavier has won its last six games against Dayton by an average of 14.3 points, beating the Flyers three times in each of the last two seasons. That recent track record won't be much help on Wednesday in a raucous arena, given Xavier's reliance on its freshmen.
``It's definitely a different game, a different atmosphere,'' forward Derrick Brown said. ``It's something you can't really say in words. You can't describe it until somebody's in the arena, in the game. It just takes a lot of leadership in these types of games to get the job done.''
It could come down to whether the freshman point guard handles the pressure.
``We know if we turn the ball over, their crowd is going to go crazy,'' Raymond said. ``Their crowd feeds off anything, especially it being the game that it is.''

NCAAB Team Pages

Recent NCAAB Discussions