Gold Rush to play LSU-Shreveport in NAIA opening round
March 7, 2012
Tournament bracket (PDF)
NAIA tournament website
NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana will play
former Gulf Coast Athletic Conference rival LSU-Shreveport
at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 15 in the opening round of the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball
National Championship at Kansas City, Mo.
The NAIA announced all 16 first-round pairings and tip-off times early
Wednesday evening. Earlier in the day the NAIA announced that the Gold Rush (23-8) were 21st in
the coaches poll and were an at-large qualifier to the national tournament.
Xavier will appear in the tournament for the 13th time and the second
consecutive year. XU coach Dannton Jackson's teams have qualified for nationals six times in his
LSUS, a GCAC member from 2003-10, is in its second season
in the Red River Athletic Conference.
"As you would expect, we are excited to return to the national tournament," Jackson said.
"It was difficult to play the waiting game since losing on Friday, but we felt we had a good chance
to get in and that there were good reasons why we deserved at-large bid. We are looking forward
to another trip to Kansas City and, hopefully, a lengthy stay there."
The Gold Rush were 11-3 in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference and shared
the regular-season championship with No. 24 Tougaloo. Xavier was seeded in the GCAC Tournament
at Jacksonville, Fla., and lost 66-65 to SUNO on Friday in the semifinals. SUNO, the
No. 3 seed, then earned the GCAC's automatic bid
to nationals with a 79-58 victory the following day against top-seeded Tougaloo.
Tougaloo also earned an at-large berth, making it the seventh time in
nine seasons and the 10th time in 13 seasons that the GCAC sent three teams to nationals.
Xavier ranks second in NAIA Division I in field-goal
percentage defense (.379), seventh in scoring defense (62.5) and 10th in
rebound margin (plus-6.7). The Gold Rush have no one averaging 10 or more
points a game; leaders are 6-foot-8 junior forward Anthony Simmons (9.8), 5-11
senior guard Chris Iles (9.6) and 6-7 junior forward Denzell Erves (9.5).
All three were All-GCAC. Another starter is 6-4 senior guard Jamaan Kenner (5.7),
who has been accepted into medical school.
Jackson was chosen GCAC Coach of the Year for the first time.
Xavier lost 79-71 to Evangel in the 2011 opening round.
The Gold Rush are 4-12 at nationals, with the most recent victory an 82-79 upset of third-ranked
Georgetown (Ky.) in the 2007 opening round.
LSU-Shreveport (25-7) is the No. 12 national seed and ranked
12th in the coaches poll.
The Pilots won the Red River tournament.
Greg Shyne (20.3), a 6-foot senior guard, and Derrick Parker (19.4), a 6-6 senior
forward, lead LSUS in scoring.
This is the 75th anniversary of the NAIA men's tournament.
The venue will be Municipal Auditorium, which opened in 1935. The tournament will conclude March 20.