Gonzaga battles Xavier in NCAA Tournament first-round
=== Gonzaga battles Xavier in NCAA Tournament first-round ===
(Sports Network) – The third-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs put their nation-best
18-game winning streak on the line when they take on the 14th-seeded Xavier
Musketeers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament’s Oakland Regional from
the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. A spot in the second round on
Saturday against either sixth-seeded Indiana or 11th-seeded San Diego State
awaits the winner. The Bulldogs simply tore through the regular season and
bring a stellar 27-3 record and a top-five ranking into the tournament.
Gonzaga went undefeated in West Coast Conference play this season and also
won the league tournament. This is the Zags’ eighth straight appearance in
the NCAA Tournament and its ninth overall. The Bulldogs are 10-8 all-time in
the event and 1-1 as a three seed.
As for Xavier, it had to play its way into the “Big Dance” and did so by
winning four straight games to capture the Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament
title. The Musketeers are making their 17th NCAA Tournament appearance and
their first as a 14 seed. Xavier is 11-16 all time in this event, which
includes an Elite Eight appearance in 2004. The Musketeers and Bulldogs have
met on one previous occasion, with Xavier claiming an 87-82 victory all the
way back in 1960.
The Musketeers have had success at both ends of the court this season, as they
are averaging 71.5 ppg on a solid 46.3 percent shooting from the field, while
holding their opponents to just 62.9 ppg and a lackluster 39.3 percent
shooting from the floor. Stanley Burrell, who is making good on 39.6 percent
of his shots from long range, currently leads the team in scoring at 14.1 ppg,
and he is dishing out 3.2 apg. Justin Doellman has been a force in the paint
at both ends and is turning in 11.0 ppg to go with team-highs of 6.8 rpg, 50
steals and 50 blocks. Justin Cage adds 10.3 ppg and 5.4 rpg for Xavier, and is
connecting on 55.2 percent of his field goal attempts.
For Gonzaga, it all starts with All-American Adam Morrison, who currently
leads the nation in scoring at 28.4 ppg. The 2005-06 WCC Player of the Year
has topped 30 points 13 times this season to go along with five 40-point
performances. He is also shooting 43.7 percent from long range and is
collecting 5.5 rpg as well. J.P. Batista has been overshadowed by Morrison’s
success, but that hasn’t stopped him from posting a solid 19.3 ppg. He is also
ripping down a team-best 9.5 rpg and shooting 59.3 percent from the floor.
Derek Raivio chips in with 11.1 ppg for the Bulldogs, who are averaging a
healthy 80.1 ppg behind 47.7 percent shooting from the field.