A-10 Men's Basketball Notebook, Dec. 14, 2008

This is the Atlantic 10 Conference's men's basketball notebook for the week ending December 13, 2008. Duquesne's Aaaron Jackson and Dionte Christmas of Temple share player of the week honors. Fordham Jio Fontan is the A-10 rookie of the week honor.


PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Dionte Christmas - Temple
Senior, Guard, 6-5, 190 lbs.
Philadelphia, Pa./Philadelphia Lutheran Christian Acad.

Christmas scored a season-high 35 points on 12-of-22 shooting, including 7-of-14 from beyond the arc, as Temple knocked off eighth ranked Tennessee on Dec. 13, 88-72...added three steals, two rebounds and two assists...marked his ninth career 30-point performance...named the A-10 Player of the Week for the second time this season...his nine career A-10 Player of the Week awards are tied with Marcus Camby (UM, 1994-96) for third-most in league history.

Aaron Jackson - Duquesne
Senior, Guard, 6-4, 185 lbs.
Hartford, Conn./Worcester (Mass.) Acad.

Jackson shot a blistering 80 percent (20-for-25) from the field while averaging 27.5 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds in a pair of contests on the week...poured in a career-high 36 points on 15-of-17 shooting with five assists and four boards on Dec. 10 in Duquesne's 95-74 win at Radford...his .882 field goal percentage tied the program's single-game record...scored a team-high 19 points in the Dukes' 68-63 loss to West Virginia on Dec. 13...made 6-of-7 attempts from three-point range over the two contests...tabbed the A-10 Player of the Week for the third time in his career.

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

Jio Fontan - Fordham
Freshman, Guard, 5-11, 180 lbs.
Patterson, N.J./St. Anthony's HS

Fontan averaged 17.5 points and 5.5 assists while hitting on 13-of-22 field goal attempts over two games...scored 13 points and dished out six assists in Fordham's 79-58 win over Lafayette on Dec. 8...recorded a season-high 22 points and added five assists and three steals on Dec. 11 in the Rams' 69-66 loss to Fairfield...has scored in double figures in six of his last seven contests.


HONOR ROLL

  • Charlotte senior forward Lamont Mack scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the 49ers' 70-64 victory at Mississippi State on Dec. 10
  • Freshman swingman Chris Johnson scored 20 points and pulled down 12 boards in his first career start on Dec. 13 as Dayton turned aside Coppin State, 73-56
  • Fordham senior forward Chris Bethel notched his second career double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds in the Rams' 79-58 win over Lafayette on Dec. 8
  • Junior forward Damian Hollis of George Washington matched his career high with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting on Dec. 13 as the Colonials downed Harvard, 78-63
  • Massachusetts senior forward Tony Gaffney averaged 11.5 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks in wins over Holy Cross (73-59) and defending national champion Kansas (61-60)
  • Senior forward Kahiem Seawright of Rhode Island scored a career-best 26 points on 9-of-10 shooting in the Rams' 77-69 win versus Central Connecticut State on Dec. 13
  • Richmond junior guard David Gonzalvez scored a team-high 19 points on Dec. 13 in the Spiders' 77-76 loss to Virginia Commonwealth
  • Senior forward Ahmad Nivins of Saint Joseph's averaged 20.5 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 15-for-23 from the field over two games
  • Saint Louis senior guard Tommie Liddell drained four field goals from beyond the arc en route to scoring a season-high 20 points, while freshman forward Willie Reed added 10 points in the Billikens' 70-49 victory over Samford
  • Senior forward C.J. Anderson of Xavier averaged 19.5 points and nine boards in a pair of victories for the Musketeers

LIGHTS...CAMERA...ACTION

Temple and Massachusetts knocked off ranked opponents on Dec. 13 during an ESPN afternoon doubleheader. The Owls turned aside eighth-ranked Tennessee, 88-72, notching their first win over a top 10 team since a 68-53 win over No. 6 George Washington in the quarterfinals of the 2006 A-10 Championship. UMass edged No. 25 (AP)/No. 23 (ESPN/USA Today) and defending national champion Kansas, 616-60, at The Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. It marked the first victory over a ranked foe by the Minutemen outside their home state since they downed fourth-ranked Georgetown, 86-62, in the Regional Finals of the 1996 NCAA Tournament. A-10 programs have earned four wins over ranked teams in the past three weeks, with Xavier edging No. 13/12 Memphis, 63-58, in the finals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Nov. 23 and Dayton earning an 89-75 win over No. 15/15 Marquette on Nov. 29 in the title game of the Chicago Invitational Challenge.

X-CELLENT

Xavier improved to 9-0 with a 76-66 win at Cincinnati on Dec. 13. The Musketeers' start is second only to the 10-0 start by the 1996-97 team. XU is vying to become the first A-10 program to begin a season with 10 consecutive victories since Saint Joseph's opened the 2003-04 season with 27 straight wins. The Musketeers have held its first nine opponents to 35.7 percent shooting from the field, which is on pace to break the school record of 36.1 percent set in during the 1952-53 season.

ANYTIME, ANYWHERE

According to RealTime RPI, the Atlantic 10 ranks fourth among Division I conferences in Strength Of Schedule. A-10 teams have already faced 14 ranked opponents since the season opened on Nov. 11.

STEPPING UP

UMass forward Tony Gaffney has opened his senior year in grand style. He has recorded five double-double performances - the first of his career - thru the Minutemen's first nine games and blocked a career-best nine shots versus Boston College on Dec. 6. Gaffney leads the A-10 in rebounding (12.9 rpg.) and blocks (5.44 bpg.).

WHAT A NIGHT

Duquesne's lone senior - guard Aaron Jackson - nearly had basketball's version of a perfect game in his career-high 36-point performance in the Dukes' 94-75 win at Radford on Dec. 10. Jackson, whose previous career-best was 22 points, went 15-of-17 from the field (5-of-6 from beyond the arc), 1-of-1 from the foul line and had five assists with just one turnover in 38 minutes. His .882 field goal percentage tied the program record set by Ruben Montanez at Saint Peter's on Feb. 17, 1973. After being held to a season-low six points at Pittsburgh on Dec. 3, the Hartford, Conn., native put in extra shooting this past week. "I didn't leave the gym until I made 100 ‘threes' and it paid off."

CAUTION: FLAMMABLE

Xavier shot a sizzling 69.2 percent (18-for-26) from the field in the first half of its 78-56 win versus Ohio on Dec. 10. The last time an XU team shot better in a half was a 78.9 percent (15-for-19) effort in the second half of its 87-67 win against then-No. 1 ranked and undefeated (27-0) Saint Joseph's in the quarterfinals of the 2004 Atlantic 10 Championship. Xavier finished that game shooting an amazing 71.1 percent from the field.

STRAIGHT SHOOTER

Saint Joseph's senior forward Ahmad Nivins seeks to join former George Washington standout Alexander Koul (1995-97) as the only players in A-10 history to lead the league in field goal percentage three consecutive years. Nivins shot .647 (165-of-255) from the field a year ago. The Jersey City, N.J., native has made 59-of-88 shots through the Hawks' first nine contests and leads the team with five double-doubles.

BLOCK PARTY

St. Bonaventure freshman forward Andrew Nicholson tied a program record with eight blocked shots on Dec. 6 in the Bonnies' 60-53 win versus Princeton. The last SBU player to register eight blocks in a game was Caswell Cyrus versus Siena on Nov. 24, 1998. In addition, Nicholson is the first player in SBU annals to be named A-10 Rookie of the Week three times.

SELECT COMPANY

Temple senior guard Dionte Christmas averaged a league-best 19.7 points last season to become just the third player in Conference history to lead the Atlantic 10 in scoring in successive years. The two other players to hold that distinction are John Battle of Rutgers (1984-85) and St. Bonaventure's Earl Belcher (1980-81). With nine career A-10 Player of the Week honors, Christmas trails only Xavier's David West (14) and Jameer Nelson of Saint Joseph's (13) and is tied with Massachusetts' Marcus Camby for the most in league history.

TICKETS PLEASE

The Philadelphia Sixers named Tony DiLeo interim head coach on Dec. 13. His son, T.J., is a freshman guard on Temple and earned South Jersey Player of the Year honors by the Philadelphia Inquirer during his senior season.

DID YOU KNOW?

Entering play on Dec. 14, 19 of the league's 50 non-conference losses have been by four points or less. A-10 teams have also dropped six overtime contests, including two by Charlotte.


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