Xavier win streak bringing confidence back

Xavier win streak bringing confidence back

Published Jan. 17, 2012 8:44 a.m. ET

"Our kids are
confident all the time," Mack said. "Sometimes we have to tell them not
to be so confident. Guys are just playing. That's all I ask of them, to
play hard. And it starts with our defensive

The Musketeers stretched their winning
streak to three with a victory over St. Bonaventure on Jan. 14. There
were no marquee wins in that stretch, but after losing five of six in
the wake of the brawl with Cincinnati, Xavier just needed to experience

Whether it was a loss of swagger or focus
amid the public scrutiny following the fight is uncertain. But clearly
something change for a couple weeks for this Xavier team that began the
season 8-0 with impressive wins over Butler, Vanderbilt and

"We just took our foot off the gas pedal,"
forward Andre Walker said. "We just have to play a complete and solid 40
minutes. We're playing with more of a sense of urgency


There's no question that defense has been the
key to Xavier's resurgence. The Musketeers held three consecutive
opponents under 40 percent shooting, and to just 27.7 percent from
3-point range.

Until someone beats the Musketeers,
they remain the favorites to win the A-10. Mack believes the burden of
the December brawl is a thing of the past and his kids are performing as
if they've already moved on.

"They feel like the
microscope has been pushed aside now," Mack


Mack is back
after knee surgery

--Xavier coach Chris Mack had
surgery Jan. 8 to repair a torn patellar tendon in his left knee. The
injury occurred in practice Jan. 6 when Mack was attempting to dunk
during a team-building exercise. He is coaching with a brace on his left
leg that prevents him from standing for long

--Assistant coach Kareem Richardson has
rejoined the coaching staff following lung surgery. During Richardson's
absence, Xavier grad and NBA standout Aaron Williams served as a
temporary assistant coach. Williams scored 1,073 points in his Xavier
career, then played for nine NBA teams before retiring in

BY THE NUMBERS: 42 -- Consecutive victories for
Xavier at home vs. Atlantic 10 Conference opponents through Jan.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "People were putting the fork in us
two years ago, and people were putting a fork in us last year. We're
going to be fine as long as we stick to our system and believe in
ourselves. We're heading in the right direction" -- Coach Chris Mack, on
his team's resurgence after it had lost five of six


--vs. Saint Joseph's, Jan.

KEY MATCHUPS: Xavier has won three straight in the
series, including a 20-point win at Saint Joseph's last season.
Sophomore Langston Galloway is the Hawks' second-leading scorer. He
scored 11 points in the loss to Xavier last year and is shooting 51
percent from 3-point range. Junior G Carl Jones is coming off a 16-point
performance in a loss at UMass.

--at Dayton, Jan.

KEY MATCHUPS: One of the nation's fiercest
rivalries is renewed at UD Arena. Xavier swept the regular-season series
last year but is looking to avenge a one-point loss in the Atlantic 10
Conference tournament. Chris Johnson, who was averaging 10.3 points
through Jan. 14 and energizes the Flyers offense, missed one game and
did not play in the second half of the Jan. 14 win over La

FUTURES MARKET: Junior F Jeff Robinson scored a
season-high 13 points in the Jan. 14 win over St. Bonaventure. He
scored 12 in Xavier's previous win over Duquesne. Xavier coach Chris
Mack said he isn't surprised by Robinson's recent contributions,
especially because of Robinson's strong finish last year. "I'd love to
keep Jeff out of foul trouble," Mack said. "When he's on the floor for
stretches at a time, he brings a tremendous offensive-rebounding
presence. He's finishing around the basket. He's earned the time he's
getting now."


--Senior C
Kenny Frease left the Jan. 14 win over St. Bonaventure early in the
second half with an ankle injury. Frease appeared to roll his right
ankle four minutes into the second half. He was expected to be
re-evaluated to determine his status for the Jan. 18 game against Saint

--Senior G Tu Holloway moved into 17th place
on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,478 career points. He
began this week trailing Gary Lumpkin (1995-99), who was in 16th place
with 1,507 points.

--Junior G Brad Redford, who
returned this season after sitting out last season with a knee injury,
appears to be finding his stroke. Redford scored a season-high 10 points
and hit two 3-pointers in the win over St.