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Men's basketball faces tough road tests

Staff Writer Cris Freese breaksdown the keys to Xavier’s upcoming roadtrip

By Cris Freese
On January 24, 2013

The Musketeers' win on Saturday did more than instill con- fidence and the usual swagger that comes with conference play. It put Xavier on par with newcomers Butler and VCU at the top of the Atlantic 10 standings, thanks in part to ugly losses by Saint Louis and Temple in the last week. Xavier (11-6, 4-0) prepares for a tough conference road trip this week with visits to Charlotte (15-3, 3-1) and Saint Joseph's (10-6, 1-2). Both teams will present challenges for head coach Chris Mack's team, particularly on the boards. The 49ers have gotten off to a strong but unheralded start to the season in their final year in the A-10. Despite their 15 wins, they do not have a standout victory, and their resume features a blowout loss to the University of Miami and a neutral site loss to Florida State. Saturday's 81-61 loss to Richmond only provides more evidence that Charlotte is a pre- tender rather than a contender. But don't tell Xavier that. Two years ago the Musketeers finished 15-1 in conference play with the only loss a 66-62 blemish at Halton Arena to the 49ers. Every road game is difficult in the A-10, and every game has become vitally important for Xavier. Alan Major's squad doesn't do anything particularly impressive, but it gets to the free throw line a lot (almost 24 times a game) and leads the conference in rebound- ing (averaging 38.9 per game). If there's an Achilles' heel for the Musketeers, it's both of those statistics. Their free throw issues have been well documented, as have their size issues on the low block. Look for Charlotte to attack down low in what will be a physical, low scoring game. Saint Joseph's was picked as a conference favorite early in the season, but a slow start (de- spite a road victory over Notre Dame) has severely hampered the Hawks. Do not let the six losses fool you, however. Saturday's con- test on Hawk Hill will be one of the toughest road environments Xavier will face all season. The Hawks have a quartet of players averaging in double figures with guards Langston Galloway (15.6) and Carl Jones (15.3) being the go-to scorers. Junior center C.J. Aiken and junior forward Ronald Roberts, Jr. will also present their unique challenges for Xavier's frontcourt. Aiken is averaging 3.3 blocks per game while Roberts is pulling down almost nine rebounds per contest. Despite having a strong nucle- us of veteran players, the Hawks don't appear all that imposing of- fensively. They do, however, hoist up 22 three point attempts per game. Xavier cannot afford to get shredded at the three like they were against Wake Forest and Wofford if they hope to come out of this week's road trip undefeated


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