Dillard and Xavier make it an all-New Orleans GCAC men’s hoops championship final

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Dillard and Xavier make it an all-New Orleans GCAC championship final

NEW ORLEANS (GCAConf.com) – Dillard and Xavier have always been rivals but it had been more than a decade since the Bleu Devils had faced a real challenge to the Gold Rush. This season, the rivalry moves to another level as the two teams meet for the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament championship.

(25) Dillard (20-10, 8-4 GCAC) vs. Xavier (20-11, 6-6) (Tip-off 4:15 PM CT): The Dillard Bleu Devils had been dormant prior to the arrival of new coach Mike Newell this season. Newell helped to orchestrate the biggest single-season turnaround in the nation this year as Dillard has improved from 5-25 last season to 20-10 this year (+15). The Bleu Devils earned their first 20-win season since 2003-04. Dillard has been sparked by GCAC Newcomer of the Year Demetric Austin, who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. Austin was a First Team All-GCAC selection as well. Teammate Dennis Hightower, a member of the All-GCAC Second Team, sits in the top ten nationally in steals (67), steals per game (2.2), assists (169), and assist average (5.6). As a team the Bleu Devils are the nation’s best offensive rebounding unit at better than 16.4 boards per game. They also rank in the top ten in assists, total rebounds, rebounding margin, and assists. The Bleu Devils have won five of their last six games. Xavier has been one of the most consistent programs in the country. The Gold Rush have won 20 games or more in 11 of the past 13 seasons under Dannton Jackson, the program’s all-time leader in wins (294). Only one Louisiana men’s basketball coach has more 20-win seasons, Fred Hobdy. However, this season has been a challenge for the Rush. Their longest win streak this season is just five games and they’ve gone just 6-7 away from the Convocation Center. Earlier this season their streak of 55 consecutive appearances in the Top 25 was broken. But Xavier finds itself in position to win its first GCAC tournament championship under Jackson and their first since the 1995-96 season. A win today would extend the Gold Rush’s school record for consecutive NAIA tournament appearances to six. To do that, Xavier will rely on senior guard Morris Wright. Wright, a member of the All-GCAC First Team and the GCAC All-Defensive team, averaged just under 19 points and 2 steals per game. He has scored nearly 600 points this season and 1,524 in school history, ranking fifth in school history. The Gold Rush have also gotten big contributions from RJ Daniels and Lucas Julien-Martin who have each posted career-highs in the tournament.

Season Series, Teams split 1-1

2/6 Xavier 69, Dillard 61

2/27 Dillard 67, Xavier 63 (OT)

TEAM LEADERS

(2) Dillard
(4) Xavier

Points
Demetric Austin, 20.6
Morris Wright, 18.7

Rebounds
Demetric Austin, 9.4
Elex Carter, 5.8

Assists
Dennis Hightower, 5.6
Morris Wright, 2.9

Steals
Dennis Hightower, 2.2
Morris Wright, 1.8

Blocks
Kristian clark, 0.5
Elex Carter, 1.3

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David Grubb

David Grubb

Featured Columnist

In and around sports his entire life, David Grubb was born in Detroit, Michigan; some of his earliest memories are in the fabled Tiger Stadium and at the not-so-fabled Pontiac Silverdome. When his family moved to the Crescent City, David’s Sunday’s became the property of the New Orleans Saints as he was in the Superdome to see the boys in black and gold rise from the Aint’s to the Who Dats! As a high schooler David played hoops for the Edna Karr Cougars and while he loved to compete quickly realized that his basketball career wasn’t going any further. He…

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