CINCINNATI (AP) - A romp over the Atlantic 10's worst team got
Xavier ready for a three-game stretch that will direct its season.
Jordan Crawford scored 23 points with several impressive drives
to the basket on Sunday, and Jamel McLean and Kenny Frease
dominated inside, leading Xavier to a 108-60 victory over Fordham
that extended its home-court success.
Xavier (15-6, 7-1 Atlantic 10 Conference) has won its last 21
home games, the fifth-longest active streak in Division I. The
Musketeers have won 29 straight A10 home games, the second-longest
streak in league history - five shy of Temple's record.
Now, they head for consecutive road games against Massachusetts,
Dayton and Florida, a stretch that can either bring them national
notice or leave them struggling to win a fourth straight Atlantic
10 regular-season title.
"It's big to just get that confidence going into that road
stretch," Frease said. "It's definitely going to be tough."
Crawford, the league's top scorer at 19 points per game, went 7
of 11 from the field and had one of his most solid games - few
forced shots in 26 minutes. Earlier in the season, he had a
propensity to try to take over the game.
"I'm getting comfortable as the season goes along," said
, who sat out last season after transferring from Indiana.
"I'm starting to pick my spots well each game. Each game I see a
lot of different defenses."
McLean added 16 points and seven rebounds, and Frease scored 14
with eight rebounds. The two forwards controlled the front line
after senior Jason Love got in foul trouble in the first half. Love
played only 17 minutes and had six points.
"Me and Kenny have been practicing on the same team for two
months, so we pretty much have that chemistry," McLean said.
Sophomore point guard Terrell Holloway had a career-high 10
assists. Xavier finished with 26 assists on its 39 baskets.
Brenton Butler scored 26 and Chris Gaston added 23 for Fordham
(2-18, 0-8), which has lost 13 in a row. It's the longest losing
streak for the Rams since they dropped the last 16 games of the
2002-03 season. The Rams are 1-14 since coach Dereck Whittenburg
was fired on Dec. 4.
Xavier finished with its highest point total in two years,
topping 100 for the third time this season. The Musketeers lead the
Atlantic 10 in scoring at 78.3 points per game.
Fordham scores the fewest points in the league - 62.7 per game -
and gives up the second-most at 75.5 per game. The Rams rank in the
bottom two in most A10 categories, relying on Gaston and Butler to
do most of the scoring. They had 49 of the Rams' 60 points.
Xavier pulled out to a 14-4 lead and appeared ready to put the
game away early. Fordham missed its first seven shots and had three
Then, the Musketeers went soft, making sloppy passes and easing
up defensively against the Rams' two scoring threats. Gaston, who
leads the Rams with 17.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, and
Butler kept Fordham close in the first half, which ended with
Xavier up 45-32.
Gaston and Butler went a combined 10 of 20 from the field,
scoring 30 of the Rams' 32 points.
Crawford had 17 in the first half on 6-of-7 shooting, repeatedly
driving past defenders to get to the basket. He had the game's most
sensational play, bringing the ball upcourt on a break, dribbling
behind his back to get around a defender, then leaning between two
others for a close-up basket. He was fouled and completed the
"I thought he was really good early on," coach Chris Mack
said. "You could tell he was locked in."
Xavier turned up the defensive pressure at the start of the
second half and pulled away.
Fordham went 2 of 8 from the field with nine turnovers in the
first 8 minutes, helping the Musketeers run out to a 67-38 lead.