Oral Roberts-Xavier Preview
One of the most embarrassing moments in the history of Xavier
basketball will leave the team short-handed for the near
The eighth-ranked Musketeers will be without three of their top
four scorers when they try to remain undefeated Sunday against
visiting Oral Roberts.
It’s been a week since the dust settled from Xavier’s 76-53 win
over rival Cincinnati on Dec. 10. Referees ended the game in
disturbing fashion with 9.4 seconds left following an on-court
brawl involving players from both schools.
While the Musketeers came out ahead on the scoreboard, there
were ramifications off it. Senior guard Tu Holloway (17.6 points
per game) was suspended one game, fellow senior Mark Lyons (17.4
ppg) for two games and starting freshman swingman Dezmine Wells
(9.5) for four. Seldom-used sophomore walk-on Landen Amos also
garnered a four-game suspension.
The starting trio of Holloway, Lyons and Wells has combined to
average 44.5 points, 12.2 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game.
“We accept full responsibility for our part in the events that
occurred at the end of our game (versus Cincinnati),” athletic
director Mike Bobinski told Xavier’s official website. “It was both
embarrassing and disappointing and clearly did not reflect the
standards of behavior we expect from our student-athletes. We
resolve to do whatever is necessary to prevent an incident like
this from occurring in the future.”
Looking to open with nine straight victories for the second time
in four seasons and win its 15th straight game at the Cintas
Center, Xavier will have only eight scholarship players available
Sunday. Four of them have never started a collegiate game.
Seven-foot senior Kenny Frease will be on the floor after he
finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds, four blocked shots and a
bloody face as result of a punch from Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates
during the brawl.
“He’s got a black and blue eye,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said.
“I give him a lot of credit (on his play).”
The short-handed Musketeers are likely to rely on Frease more
than usual with some of their bigger names out of the lineup,
particularly on the defensive where Xavier has held its last three
opponents – Purdue, Butler and the Bearcats – to 59.0 points and
33.0 percent shooting.
Though the brawl ultimately overshadowed their play on the
floor, the Musketeers limited Cincinnati to 27.9 percent shooting,
including 1 for 16 from 3-point range.
“The way we played, it was probably our best game of the year,”
Oral Roberts (7-4) has averaged just 59.3 points on 38.8 percent
shooting while losing two of three following a six-game winning
The Golden Eagles did manage to remain competitive during a
67-61 loss at Gonzaga on Thursday. Damen Bell-Holter, who hit a
65-foot buzzer-beater to give Oral Roberts a 58-55 win at
Arkansas-Little Rock on Monday, had a team-high 16 points against
Oral Roberts has dropped four straight road games against Top 25
opponents since a 78-71 victory at then-No. 3 Kansas on Nov. 15,
Xavier holds a 10-7 lead in the all-time series with Oral
Roberts. The schools split their last two meetings during the
1986-87 season, while members of the Midwestern Collegiate