Matt Derenbecker’s top of the key three rimmed in-and-out and as Justin Martin corralled the rebound, he secured the Musketeers 28th straight victory (in the last 33 years) over the Flyers in Cincinnati.
Martin sank both free throws to ice the game for a 66-61 win Wednesday night over arch-rival Dayton. The Flyers have not beat Xavier in Cincinnati since Jimmy Carter was president.
Not only to Martin ice the game, but he made a quick defensive switch that kept Kevin Dillard from a corner three. Dillard passed to the wing and cut to the corner off the backscreen. Martin, the 6-foot-6 sophomore quickly switched and swarmed Dillard in the corner. Dillard found Derenbecker open at the top of key, as miscommunicaiton between two Xavier defenders left two guys on Dayton’s Jalen Robinson.
Derenbecker was one swing away from getting Dyshawn Pierre – who hit a big three late to put Dayton up 59-58 with 2:47 remaining – a wide open look but Derenbecker had a nice enough look and had connected on 3-of-4 from behind the arc before that shot.
The win for Xavier not only keeps its home winning streak against Dayton alive, it also puts the Musketeers back in the win column after consecutive conference losses to Charlotte and St. Joseph’s. Xavier moves into a tie with VCU for second place in the A-10.
Under two minutes to go, the game changed hands four times until Semaj Christon shot put the Musketeers up 62-61 with 60 seconds to go. Although Dayton was inches away from forcing an extra session, the Flyers were dominated on the board by Xavier. The Musketeers nearly doubled the Flyers on the board, 30-16 (14-9 offensive).
Dee Davis had 14 points to lead Xavier. Jeff Robinson added 12 and five rebounds, while Travis Taylor chipped in eight with a game-high 11 rebounds. Vee Sanford led Dayton with 16. Dillard added 12 and five assists
The battle of the Ohio foes headlined an exciting night for Atlantic 10 basketball as UMass went to Philadelphia and beat La Salle by one in the first game for the Explorers since knocking off Butler and VCU in consecutive games.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.