Men’s basketball takes on SLU
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 13:01
The Xavier Musketeers will return to action today when they
take on the Saint Louis Billikens. After traveling to Dayton on
Saturday, the Musketeers will play the Billikens at Cintas Center before playing their next three games on the road.
Xavier fell to the Dayton Flyers 87-72 on Saturday in a critical
game that went beyond the heated rivalry between the two schools. The loss caused the Musketeers to fall to second in the Atlantic 10 conference standings.
For the past five years, Xavier has won at least a share of the A-10 conference championship title. While Xavier is still being considered the team to beat in the A-10 by most, the Musketeers are getting a run for their money this season.
The primary two teams chasing the Muskies are the Billikens and the Flyers. Xavier will have a chance to avenge their loss to the Flyers when Dayton travels down
I-75 for the second meeting of the year between the two schools on Feb. 18.
The Musketeers will have to put the Dayton loss behind them to focus on Saint Louis. Saint Louis sits at 3-2 in
the A-10 and 15-4 overall. The Billikens two conference losses have been single-digit losses to Dayton and Temple.
For Saint Louis, senior forward Brian Conklin leads the team in scoring with 14.3 points per game and is second in rebounding with 5.4 boards per game. Xavier was led in scoring by senior point guard Tu Holloway with 21 points. A close second in scoring was junior shooting guard Mark Lyons. Lyons scored 20 points and went three for five
from beyond the arch. Lyons leads Xavier in scoring
with 16.6 points per game. The redshirt junior has scored in double figures for 16 of his 17 games this season.
Holloway, who led Xavier in scoring last season, has scored 15 points or less in the six games preceding
the Dayton game. Perhaps Holloway's most startling
statistics go hand-in-hand. Holloway went scoreless in a
Xavier win against Fordham and recorded a season-high 12 assists against St. Bonaventure. The pre-season All-American's role on this Xavier team is changing,
though the nature of this change remains uncertain.
While the Musketeers' offense was intact against Dayton,
rebounding proved to be a challenge for Xavier.
Xavier was out-rebounded 40-28 on Saturday by the Flyers.
The Musketeer's leading rebounder is forward Andre Walker, a graduate student transfer from Vanderbilt.
"[Practice] was really intense. We focused on things that we were lacking during the game. Mostly rebounding and just playing with intensity. We got after it and competed
a lot," Walker said.
Walker averages 6.2 rebounds per game, and on Saturday, the 6-foot-8 forward recorded only two rebounds.
Both of Walker's rebounds were defensive, a strange occurrence for the forward who records a third of his boards on the offensive end.
Before their loss to the Flyers, the Musketeer defense had been some of the strongest of the 2011-12 season.
The 87 points that Xavier allowed against Dayton were the
most the team had allowed all season. Today's game will serve as a stepping stone for the Musketeers in the path to a sixth consecutive A-10 title and seventh straight NCAA tournament appearance. "It's a sense of urgency, but it
depends on the sense you're using that word. We don't want to be in a hurry. We want to do everything quickly but not in a rush to the point where we just overwhelm
ourselves and put too much overload on each player. We want to respond quickly and start winning more games," junior forward Travis Taylor said.