Ind.-Pur.-Ft. Wayne-Xavier Preview

BY foxsports • November 15, 2011

Expectations are high for Xavier in 2011-12. The biggest reason for those high expectations will make his season debut in the team's second game.

Senior guard Tu Holloway will return from a one-game suspension when the 13th-ranked Musketeers host IPFW on Tuesday night.

Xavier opened its season Friday by beating Morgan State 74-63 as Holloway served a one-game suspension for playing too many summer league games.

Holloway averaged 19.7 points, 5.4 assists and 1.4 steals last season, helping the Musketeers go 24-8 and reach their sixth consecutive NCAA tournament. After considering the NBA draft, he decided to return for his senior season to anchor a talented backcourt.

"He's the engine that makes us run," coach Chris Mack said. "He's arguably one of the best point guards in the country so no matter who we play it's beneficial for us to have him on the floor."

Junior Mark Lyons, who averaged 13.6 points last season, took over at point guard for Holloway on Friday and finished with 22 points, six assists, seven rebounds and three steals while shooting 9 of 17 shooting. Freshman Dezmine Wells started at the other guard spot and had 12 points.

"It's a start," Mack said. "Once you play that first game, it's a roller coaster that doesn't end until late March or early April. ... I give our guys credit for playing without Tu. Lyons had a marvelous game."

While fans didn't get to see Holloway in Xavier's opener, they did witness the return of junior guard Brad Redford, who missed last season with a knee injury. Redford, who connected on 101 3-pointers during his freshman and sophomore seasons, made two from beyond the arc in 11 minutes Friday.

"Getting used to the pounding, being on your feet, it takes a little bit to get used to," Redford said. "I'm still working on my strength and endurance. ... I don't feel like I've lost a step."

The Musketeers had their hands full with IPFW last Nov. 16 before holding on for a 76-66 overtime win. Holloway scored six of his 24 points in the extra session.

The Mastodons (1-0) opened their season with an 83-72 victory over Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday. Frank Gaines scored a career-high 29 points and Trey McCorkle added 19 points and 11 rebounds.

It was Tony Jasick's first game as coach, and freshmen Jonny Marlin and Joe Edwards also debuted. Marlin had five points, nine assists and four steals in a starting role while Edwards came off the bench and contributed eight points and four rebounds.

"We're playing a lot of new guys so I think as the year goes on, we'll get better," Jasick said.

IPFW is 0-12 against teams in the Top 25 since joining Division I in 2001-02, with the 12 losses coming by an average of 18.8 points.

The Musketeers have won all three meetings in the series with IPFW.

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