Crawford Leads Muskies Past Fordham

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

three-point play.

"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.


run that put it away.


(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


had four free throws and a reverse dunk during the 22-6