No. 14 Xavier 74, Morgan St. 63
Stepping in for an All-American might concern some players.
Xavier’s Mark Lyons had no problem.
Lyons, taking over at point guard for suspended senior Tu
Holloway, scored 22 points and Dezmine Wells added 12 in his
college debut to help the 14th-ranked Musketeers open the regular
season with a 74-63 victory over Morgan State on Friday night.
”I would say we were competitive on every possession,” said
Lyons, who had six assists and just one turnover while falling 3
minutes short of playing the entire 40 minutes. ”We played good
without our senior point guard. My teammates put me in great
position to score.”
Xavier overcame Holloway’s absence to win its 22nd consecutive
regular-season opener. The Musketeers are 12-0 in season openers at
the Cintas Center, where they will play their first four games of
the season. Coach Chris Mack was happy to escape with a win while
missing his key player.
”It’s a start,” he said. ”Once you play that first game, it’s
a roller-coaster that doesn’t end until late March or early April.
We knew Morgan State was a quality opponent. I give our guys credit
for playing without Tu. Lyons had a marvelous game. I thought he
got a little too casual with the ball in the last four or five
Kevin Thompson scored 14 points, 10 in the second half, and
DeWayne Jackson and Justin Black each added 11 for Morgan State.
Jackson scored all but one of his points in the first half.
Xavier center Kenny Frease had 10 points before fouling out with
4:21 left and Musketeer junior guard Brad Radford, a 3-point
specialist who missed all of last season because of a torn ligament
in his left knee, made two 3-pointers in the second half and
finished with six points. His second 3-pointer gave Xavier its
biggest lead, 65-47, with 7:14 left in the game.
Nine of the 10 Musketeers who played scored at least two points,
impressing Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman.
”Coming in, we heard they had a lot of depth, and they did,”
Holloway, a third-team All-American and the Atlantic 10 Player
of the Year last season, was suspended for one game by the NCAA for
participating in two leagues this past summer, when only one is
permitted. The secondary violation was reported by Xavier in
Six Xavier fans standing in the front row of the student section
had ”Free Tu” written out in body paint on their chests.
Wells started his first college game and scored 10 points in the
first half, eight while leading the Musketeers back from a 22-12
deficit to a 40-35 halftime lead. He made a 3-pointer from the left
corner with 4 seconds left in the half.
”It was everything I thought it would be – the intensity, the
speed,” Wells said of his first college game. ”It was everything
I thought it would be – and more. I was kind of nervous. I just was
feeding off of Mark Lyons’ energy and letting my teammates get me
involved in the game.”
He also turned in the most spectacular play of the game, soaring
in from the right baseline to score on an alley-oop dunk off of
Lyons’ pass from beyond the 3-point line on the left wing to help
fuel Xavier’s comeback from that first-half deficit.
”Dez was phenomenal, but he had some freshman moments, too,”
Wells was helped off the court with 9:04 left in the game after
suffering cramps in his right leg.
Lyons made two 3-pointers while scoring Xavier’s first eight
points and 10 of the Musketeers first 14 of the second half as they
opened up a 54-37 lead. He finished with 14 points in the second