The College Basketball Notebook

January 31, 2011 7:29 AM

Xavier Makes A Statement

TuHolloway.jpgThere were a lot of newsworthy games around the country this weekend, starting with St. John's rolling over Duke yesterday and several Top 25 teams falling by the wayside. But in the race for conference titles, no one made a bigger statement than the Xavier Musketeers in the Atlantic 10. They went into Richmond, where the Spiders were one game back and brought dynamic point guard Kevin Anderson to the house. Xavier hung an 85-62 whipping on the hosts, in spite of Richmond knocking down 10 three-point shots. The Musketeers were an astonishing 29-of-30 from the foul line, with Tu Holloway hitting all 17 of his free throws. Holloway hung 33 points on the board and asserted clearly just who the best player in the A-10 is. Jamel McLean cleaned up the glass with 12 rebounds, leading a decisive Xavier edge here. Anderson was held to 10 points and while his key mate Justin Harper scored 20, there was no real rebounding threat.

Xavier sent a message about who the best player is and they are probably the best team, but Duquesne made a statement of its own. The Dukes kept pace by beating Dayton 82-64 and going to 7-0 in the conference. Dayton turned the ball over twenty times and Duquesen had four starters score between 15-19 points. The Flyers are certainly one of this season's big disappointments as this game, along with a home loss to Richmond loss earlier in the week all but knock them out of the conference race and they are likely NIT bound this year. Who would have thought that one of the best conference races in the country this year would be Xavier and Duquesne in the Atlantic 10?


In the SEC, the woeful Western Division stepped up and reclaimed some self-respect on Saturday, as Arkansas beat Vanderbilt and Mississippi State beat Florida. The Hogs got 36 points from Rotnei Clark, while the Bulldogs got 24 from Dee Bost. The loss by Florida opened the door for Kentucky to pull even in the conference race with a clutch 66-60 win over Georgia. Most noteworthy was the way the Wildcats contained Georga power forward Trey Thompkins, holding him to nine points. Tennessee was one SEC East team that took care of business against the other division, rolling past Ole Miss. The Vols, Gators and Wildcats are all tied with two conference losses apiece, and Vanderbilt is one game back in the loss column.

And out in the Pac-10, Washington State delivered an 87-80 win over frontrunning Washington, already the second time the Huskies have lost in league play. The big problem was turnovers--they coughed it up 24 teams and the starting backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Scott Suggs was responsible for half of those. Cougar guard Klay Thompson had 25, kept his team in the conference race and put himself at the top tier of discussion for Player of the Year honors, along with Arizona forward Derrick Williams.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary on the NFL playoffs and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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