|No. 17 Xavier tries for 3rd straight A10 title|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 04 March 2009 15:01|
The Musketeers can win at least a share of their third straight regular-season championship on Thursday night by beating Dayton, a run of titles unmatched this decade in the A10. Not since UMass and Temple were stringing them together in the 1990s has a school dominated the league for so long.
``It says a lot,'' coach Sean Miller said Wednesday. ``For us to have an opportunity to enter that company is where we want to be. It takes a lot of work. We really appreciate the grind of it all and how hard it's been, not just this season but the last two.''
The Musketeers (23-5, 11-3) have taken a zigzag path to this one. They won their first nine conference games, prompting suggestions they might run the table in the A10. Three straight road losses, including 71-58 at Dayton on Feb. 11, temporarily knocked them out of first place.
24-5, 10-4) would give them a share of the league title and clinch the top seed in the A10 tournament next week. The Musketeers beat second-place Rhode Island (11-4) in January, giving them the head-to-head tiebreaker if they finish with identical conference marks.
Xavier can get its third straight title outright by beating Dayton, then winning at Richmond on Saturday.
``That would mean a lot,'' said B.J. Raymond, one of two seniors playing his final home game. ``As seniors, that would leave us with a big legacy.''
Their biggest conference rival is the last one in their way. The Flyers jumped on courtside media tables and waved to the crowd in celebration after their win on Feb. 11 at raucous UD Arena turned the Atlantic 10 into a wide-open race. The Flyers made half their shots against one of the nation's top defenses.
Dayton brings one of the nation's most mind-boggling streaks into the rematch. The Flyers haven't beaten Xavier in Cincinnati since Jan. 10, 1981, losing 23 straight. They have gone 0-8 at the Cintas Center, Xavier's current home.
They're facing a team still smarting from that loss in Dayton.
``Obviously we went down there and we weren't ready to play,'' junior forward Derrick Brown said. ``We're taking that personal a little bit. We've got to be ready to defend our home court because there's a lot at stake.''
articularly bad game in Dayton, going 1-for-4 from the field and 1-for-6 from the free-throw line and had one rebound in 21 minutes.
Anderson likes to weave through defenders for layups, but got called for two offensive fouls early in the game, sending him to the bench. He never got into a flow when he returned.
``I've just got to play smarter earlier in the game,'' Anderson said. ``They did a good job taking two charges on me early on. That kind of took me out of the game.''
The other glaring problem was freshman point guard Terrell Holloway, who went 0-for-5 from the field and didn't have an assist in 22 minutes. That performance prompted Miller to replace Holloway in the starting lineup. Coming off the bench in the last four games, Holloway has gone 2-of-19 from the field with eight assists and three turnovers.
``He clearly needs more experience,'' Miller said. ``He's had his rough moments. He's also had great moments. I hope more than anything just with the experience he's gotten, that he's more settled in the game tomorrow night than maybe last month in Dayton.''