CINCINNATI (AP) - Dante Jackson's homecoming was short but
Jackson had a season-high 14 points and six assists before
fouling out with 8:53 to play on Wednesday night, steadying Xavier
to an 86-74 victory over Charlotte that kept the Musketeers perfect
in Atlantic 10 play.
Xavier (11-5, 3-0) won its first two conference games on the
road, then returned to the Cintas Center, where it hasn't lost an
A10 game since the end of the 2005-06 season. The Musketeers
stretched that streak to 25 in a row behind Jackson, a junior guard
who lost his starting job earlier in the season.
The Musketeers wore their special gray home jerseys and put
together a solid overall game, with Jackson leading the way as long
as he could.
"Protect home court," he said. "Winning two games on the road
was great, but it felt good to be able to come home and play in
front of the home crowd."
Jordan Crawford added 18 points for Xavier, which pulled ahead
by 21 midway through the second half and kept its composure during
a late Charlotte run. An'Juan Wilderness led the 49ers with 15
Charlotte (11-5, 1-1) has been one of the A10's early surprises,
matching its win total from last season with a cast of newcomers
led by 6-foot-8 freshman forward Chris Braswell, who has five
double-doubles. The 49ers also have a signature win, beating
Louisville 87-65 at Freedom Hall on Dec. 5.
Xavier didn't need much time to make Braswell look like a
freshman. He played 11 minutes in the first half, didn't score and
didn't get a rebound. Braswell didn't score until there was 12:14
left. He finished with 14 points and four rebounds.
"He's a freshman," coach Bobby Lutz said. "Sometimes a
freshman is doing everything he can and he's not quite ready."
He wasn't the only one having a tough time. With Jackson making
shots and passing to set up teammates, Xavier made 10 of its first
15 shots. Jackson made a pair of 3s and had a steal and layup that
helped the Musketeers pull ahead by 15 at the outset.
The junior guard got his starting job back because guard Mark
Lyons has been sidelined for the last three games by a bruised
knee. He has taken full advantage.
"I thought Dante Jackson had one of his best games of the
year," coach Chris Mack said. "He was big. He shot the ball well.
He spread it around."
Xavier shot 52 percent from the field in the first half, opening
a 44-28 lead. The Musketeers had a problem when Jason Love and
Kenny Frease - their two starting forwards - were on the bench in
foul trouble with 8:28 left in the half and Xavier up by 13.
Instead of hitting a lull, the Musketeers added to their lead.
"We had really good ball pressure on the perimeter," Jackson
said. "We were able to pressure the ball on the wings, on the top,
and that hurt them."
Xavier kept it up in the second half, pushing the lead to 21
points with 11 minutes left. Lutz threw a lot of defenses at the
Musketeers - man-to-man, triangle-and-two, 2-3 zone - but the
Musketeers weren't knocked off their game for long.
"Xavier got really good shots and was able to make them," Lutz
said. "We got too far behind."
Charlotte got a break when Jackson fouled out, leaving the
already injury-thin backcourt without one of its more experienced
"It was disappointing," Jackson said. "But I feel we're a
veteran team and just kind of left it in their hands."
Charlotte went to a full-court trap, forced a couple of
turnovers and gained some momentum, cutting the lead to 10.
Crawford took the ball inside to draw fouls, and made a driving
layup with 1:42 to go that finished Charlotte's comeback.
"I was trying to still be aggressive," said Crawford, who was
6 of 14 from the field. "When you play not to lose, you start
making dumb decisions. I was trying to make good decisions."
The Musketeers also played gritty defense, holding the 49ers to