(10) Xavier 81

(22-4, 10-1 A 10)

Rhode Island 77

(20-6, 6-5 A 10)

    7:00 PM ET, February 18, 2008

    Thomas M. Ryan Center, Kingston, Rhode Island

    1 2 T
    #10XAV 44 3781
    URI 34 4377

    Top Performers

    Xavier: J. Duncan 23 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast

    Rhode Island: P. Bitee 25 Pts, 3 Reb, 7 Ast

    Xavier-Rhode Island Preview


    Xavier's ability to come through in the clutch is a key reason it remains atop the Atlantic 10.

    After surviving yet another close call, the 10th-ranked Musketeers should again be in for a challenge when they visit Rhode Island in a league matchup Monday night.

    Xavier (21-4, 9-1) won 62-60 at Charlotte on Wednesday for its seventh straight victory and 13th in 14 games. That run has given the Musketeers a two-game lead over St. Joseph's in the A-10, but getting to that spot hasn't been easy.

    Josh Duncan had a career-high 25 points Wednesday and hit the clinching 3-pointer with 15.9 seconds to give Xavier a four-point lead. That effort came one game after B.J. Raymond hit a go-ahead 3 with 45 seconds left and Stanley Burrell made two free throws with 13 seconds to play in a 76-72 win over St. Joseph's on Feb. 10.

    Xavier's string of three straight tight contests began with Derrick Brown's tip-in with 0.1 seconds remaining in a 70-68 win at Saint Louis on Feb. 7.

    "The point I make is, when North Carolina plays at Virginia and they win by two, it's like, `That's life in the ACC," Xavier coach Sean Miller said. "Well in our conference this season, we have great depth and we have some real quality teams."

    Xavier will see another in Rhode Island (20-5, 6-4), which spent four weeks from late December to early January in the AP poll and is 11-0 at home.

    The Musketeers will have to play much better against the Rams than they did versus Charlotte if they are to continue their run.

    On Wednesday, Xavier shot 39.5 percent and committed a season-high 23 turnovers. The Musketeers had shot 47.5 percent over their previous six games, and turned the ball over just 21 times in the prior two contests.

    The Musketeers, however, played well defensively, holding Charlotte to 31.6 percent shooting and outrebounding the 49ers 28-18 on the defensive end.

    Xavier hopes to have senior point guard and leading scorer Drew Lavender on the floor Monday after he turned his ankle in the first half Wednesday. He continued to play, but was held scoreless. Lavender is averaging 11.7 points on the season and 20.0 points and 8.0 assists in two career games versus Rhode Island.

    The 6-foot-9 Duncan, second on the team with 11.2 points a game, added eight rebounds against Charlotte. The senior is averaging 14.3 points in his last seven contests and like Lavender, offers plenty of experience.

    "It's not anything magical. We not only have seniors but we have guys who in their senior year who have been through the wars," Miller said. "They have been through these games and lost. They've been in the (NCAA) tournament. ... They're the heart and soul of what we do."

    Though Xavier lost 79-71 to Rhode Island in the semifinals of last season's conference tournament, the Musketeers have won 12 straight regular season meetings with the Rams, including the last five in Kingston.

    Rhode Island, tied for third in the A-10, fell 92-89 in overtime at Temple on Wednesday for its second defeat in three games.

    Will Daniels had 26 points for the Rams. The 6-8 senior is averaging a team-leading 18.4 points on the season and 21.0 in his last three contests. He's averaging 13.8 in four games versus Xavier.

    Rhode Island has lost its last 15 games versus ranked opponents since a 70-63 win over then-No. 21 Utah on Dec. 2, 1998.


    School Info

    Conference Big East Atlantic 10
    Nickname Musketeers Rams
    Type Private Public

    2007-08 Season

    » Feb 18, 2008 XAV 81, @URI 77Recap