Miami (Ohio)-Xavier Preview
Guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons are big reasons why Xavier is off to a strong start.
A season-opening four-game homestand could have a greater impact.
Holloway and Lyons will try to help the No. 13 Musketeers to a 41st victory in 42 games at the Cintas Center when they face in-state rival Miami of Ohio on Friday night.
Xavier followed its opening 74-63 victory over Morgan State last Friday by easing past IPFW 86-63 four days later. Holloway's return from a one-game NCAA suspension spurred the win Tuesday, as he scored 24 points with six assists and five rebounds.
Lyons is averaging 21.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists after making all seven shots - four 3-pointers - to score 19 of his 21 in the second half Tuesday.
That production is a marked increase for Lyons, who averaged 13.6 points and 3.1 assists as a sophomore last season to finish second on the team to Holloway's 19.7 and 5.4 averages.
Xavier (2-0) is shooting 52.6 percent from the field and 48.6 from beyond the arc.
"It's easy for us (Lyons and himself) to share the ball and get assists," Holloway said. "With Mark and I driving to the rim and creating double-teams it's going to open up some shots. We have some great shooters."
While Holloway and Lyons look to maintain their impressive production, the Musketeers will try to continue their dominant run at home.
They're 151-18 at the Cintas Center since it opened for the 2000-01 season, winning 40 of the past 41 and 10 in a row by an average of 15.9 points.
Xavier has won 10 of the last 11 home matchups with Miami, dating to the Cincinnati Gardens.
Holloway and Lyons had 18 points each, but the Musketeers lost 75-64 to the RedHawks on the road Dec. 1.
Despite that victory, Miami coach Jermaine Henderson is trying to avoid being in awe of the Musketeers.
"When you see Xavier and their other scores, or you look in the paper or get on the internet and see the Top 25, you know they've got a tremendous team," Henderson told the RedHawks' official website.
"They deserve their ranking, and we certainly have to be respectful of that. But we also have to find a way to limit 'woah, they're ranked' and hold ourselves to 'this is another opponent' as much as we can."
The RedHawks have lost 18 in a row to ranked foes since beating then-No. 10 Boston College 73-67 on Dec. 20, 2001.
Miami got its season off to a positive start against another in-state rival, beating Dayton 72-67 in overtime at home Tuesday. Senior forward Julian Mavunga had 17 points and 11 rebounds.
He led the RedHawks with 14.8 points and 8.2 boards per game last season and contributed 24 and eight, respectively, in the victory over Xavier.