By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Xavier kept itself in the race for its second consecutive Atlantic 10 West championship on Saturday by playing 6 1/2 minutes of team basketball.
Trailing UD 28-13 midway through the first half and looking at a two-game deficit in the loss column, XU finally got offensive production from someone other than David West and went on an 18-6 run.
"That was very important," said Lionel Chalmers, who made a pair of steals during the run that led to three points. "We were playing terrible, and they were pushing the ball. It was important to cut into their lead."
Romain Sato hit two 3-pointers and scored eight of his 10 first-half points during the run. West, who had 22 of his 47 points in the first half, scored seven during the run and could have scored more had he not missed a pair of layups. He scored Xavier's first 13 points, a large reason why Dayton jumped out to an early lead.
As important as the offense was to Xavier getting back in the game, it would not have happened had Xavier's full-court defense not improved. Early in the half, Dayton got several easy baskets in transition because XU failed to hustle back on defense.
"The things that we discussed before the game, we were not doing," said Xavier coach Thad Matta. "I told the guys, 'We are going to get run out of the gym if we don't get some stops.'"
TV FLOP: The technical difficulties experienced by ESPN during Saturday's Temple-Massachusetts game further highlighted the fact the Dayton-Xavier game was not part of "Rivalry Week."
Instead of televising Saturday's first-place game at Cintas Center, ESPN had to show bonus coverage from Iowa and Rutgers because of a misfeed from UMass' Mullins Center. Once a second production truck arrived in Amherst, Mass., the final minutes of Temple's 61-50 victory were shown. Xavier's game was televised by the Atlantic 10 Network on Fox Sports Net Ohio.
The programming decision was made in mid-July, said A-10 commissioner Linda Bruno.
"ESPN wanted UMass and Temple," Bruno said. "They didn't want to take two Xavier-Dayton games."
ESPN is televising the XU-UD rematch Feb. 22 at UD Arena.
COLEMAN RETURNS: Anthony Coleman, who left the team in December and now attends Long Beach State, showed up for the final minutes of Saturday's game.
His visit was a surprise for Xavier players. "I've got people on this team that I care about," Coleman said. "I didn't tell anyone I was coming. I told them I was going to Atlanta for the (NBA) All-Star Game."
Coleman, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, was unhappy about his playing time and quit the team Dec. 19. He said coaches left him the option of returning to the team back then.
PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: Sato was taken to the hospital for a CT scan following the game because of a concussion he received in the second half when he hit his head on the floor going for a rebound. After the game, he appeared dazed as he was helped out of the arena.
"By definition he suffered a concussion," said team physician Robert Burger. "After the game, once he sat down, he got a little dizzy and dazed. This is just precautionary to get him checked out, though."
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