Xavier men meet ranked Delta State at The Barn
November 17, 2009
NEW ORLEANS — It's been a little more than two
years since the Xavier University of Louisiana men's basketball team played
a ranked non-conference opponent at home, but that drought will end Wednesday.
NCAA member Delta State — No. 21 in Division II Bulletin's
preseason ranking and No. 23 in the NABC Division II preseason coaches
poll — will visit NAIA member Xavier in a 6 p.m. game at The Barn.
The game will be the regular-season opener for
Delta State, which returns four starters from its 21-9 team which reached the
NCAA South Regional this past season. The Statesmen's leading returning scorers
are senior guards Joe McCray (12.5 points per game), Eric Spencer (12.1) and
Earnesto Green (11.9).
"I can't think of a better team on our schedule
than Delta State," seventh-year Xavier Coach Dannton Jackson said. "They have a
lot of experience. They have five (NCAA) Division I transfers. Our team will need to
be prepared and focused for all 40 minutes."
Or, based on early results, longer than 40. Xavier
has played twice in overtime — a 77-75 exhibition loss at Southern on
Nov. 5 and a 67-65 home loss to Texas College on Saturday —
and will bring a 3-1 regular-season record to Wednesday's game.
Devin Andrew, a 6-4 junior guard, leads the Gold Rush
with 13.8 points per game and is eighth in NAIA Division I with a .952 free-throw
percentage. Andrew is 20-of-21 from the line this season and has made 17 straight
since missing his fourth attempt in the opener.
Michael Harvey, a 6-3 junior guard, is Xavier's other
double-figure scorer at 10.8. The Rush is seventh in NAIA D-I in scoring defense
with 57.5 points allowed per game.
"We've had some good moments, but with six freshmen
on our roster, we obviously still have a lot of room for improvement," Jackson said.
Four Xavier freshmen are averaging double-figure minutes,
and the leading scorer among the newcomers is 6-4 guard Kevin Miller, who averages
5.3 points and had season highs of eight points and five rebounds against Texas College.
This will be the sixth meeting between the Gold Rush
and Statesmen and the first since the 1986-87 season. Delta State leads the
series 4-1, and Xavier's only victory was 82-76 in 1985-86. The Statesmen
averaged 103.3 points in their four victories against XU.
The last time Xavier played a ranked non-conference
opponent at The Barn, the Rush needed a 12-0 run in the final three minutes —
including Mark Stewart's basket with 3.4 seconds remaining —
to defeat Wiley 68-67 on Nov. 10, 2007. Both teams were ranked in NAIA
D-I that night.
Xavier's first eight regular-season games will be at
The Barn. The home stand will continue at 2 p.m. Saturday against Wiley in a
homecoming doubleheader and at 7 p.m. Monday against Concordia (Ala.) in