Here’s a switch — Rush to open hoops season on road

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NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana men’s basketball will make a rare trip to start the season. The Gold Rush also will play 10 games against teams that qualified for last season’s NAIA Division I National Championship.

Those are some of the highlights of the 2017-18 schedule that second-year head coach Alfred Williams announced Wednesday.

The Rush’s 80th season will begin in about 2 1/2 weeks with a trip to Florida for games at St. Thomas Oct. 27 and Florida Memorial Oct. 28. It will be the first time since the 1992-93 season that the XULA men begin the regular season on the road. They had played their last 23 openers at home.

The 2017 NAIA tourney teams on the schedule will be:

•  LSU-Alexandria — Nov. 8 road, Nov. 29 home.
•  William Carey — Nov. 14 road, Jan. 17 home.
•  Loyola — Dec. 16 road, Jan. 24 home.
•  Talladega — Jan. 15 road, Feb. 28 home.
•  Dillard — Jan. 20 road, Feb. 17 home.

Loyola and Dillard are longtime city rivals. Dillard and Talladega compete with XULA in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference. LSUA was 34-1 last season, a national semifinalist and No. 3 in the coaches postseason poll.

There will be 30 regular-season games in all, 15 at home. NCAA Division II member Miles will open the home schedule at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 in the Convocation Center. The homecoming opponent will be Huston-Tillotson at 1 p.m. Nov. 18.

The only first-time opponent is the University of the Virgin Islands, a new NAIA member which will participate in the Xavier Classic Dec. 17-18. The Xavier Classic, a longtime women’s-only Thanksgiving tournament, has added a men’s bracket this season and moved to between the end of the first semester and Christmas.

The 12-game conference schedule is unbalanced. XULA will play its first five GCAC games on the road, then close with 6-of-7 at home, including the last four. The GCAC has seven teams for the third consecutive year: XULA, Dillard, Edward Waters (Jacksonville, Fla.), Philander Smith (Little Rock, Ark.), Talladega (Talladega, Ala.), Tougaloo (Tougaloo, Miss.) and another longtime city rival, SUNO.

The GCAC Tournament will be March 2-4, followed by the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National Championship March 14-20 at Kansas City, Mo. XULA seeks to qualify for nationals for the seventh time in eight seasons. The Gold Rush missed nationals last season, finishing 10-20 overall and 6-6 — fourth place, one game out of second — in the GCAC.

Xavier University of Louisiana
2017-18 Men’s Basketball Schedule

Oct. 27 (Fri.):  at St. Thomas (Fla.), 2 p.m. EDT
Oct. 28 (Sat.):  at Florida Memorial, TBA
Nov. 4 (Sat.):  at LeMoyne-Owen, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 6 (Mon.):  MILES, 7 p.m.
Nov. 8 (Wed.):  at LSU-Alexandria (DH), 7 p.m.
Nov. 14 (Tue.):  at William Carey (DH), 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 18 (Sat.):  HUSTON-TILLOTSON, 1 p.m. (Homecoming)
Nov. 20 (Mon.):  MOBILE, 7 p.m.
Nov. 22 (Wed.):  at St. Thomas (Texas), 7 p.m.
Nov. 29 (Wed.):  LSU-ALEXANDRIA (DH), 7 p.m.
Dec. 13 (Wed.):  CARVER, 7 p.m.
Dec. 16 (Sat.):  at Loyola (N.O.), 7 p.m.
Dec. 17 (Sun.):  VIRGIN ISLANDS (DH), 5 p.m. (Xavier Classic)
Dec. 18 (Mon.):  RUST (DH), 7 p.m. (Xavier Classic)
Dec. 22 (Fri.):  at Mobile, 7 p.m.
Jan. 8 (Mon.):  •  at Edward Waters (DH), 7:30 p.m. EST
Jan. 13 (Sat.):  •  at Tougaloo (DH), 5 p.m.
Jan. 15 (Mon.):  •  at Talladega (DH), 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 (Wed.):  WILLIAM CAREY (DH), 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 20 (Sat.):  •  at Dillard (DH), 5 p.m.
Jan. 22 (Mon.):  •  at Philander Smith (DH), 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 (Wed.):  LOYOLA (N.O.), 7 p.m.
Jan. 26 (Fri.):  at Jarvis Christian, 7 p.m.
Jan. 29 (Mon.):  •  SUNO (DH), 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 (Mon.):  •  EDWARD WATERS (DH), 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 12 (Mon.):  •  at SUNO (DH), 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 17 (Sat.):  •  DILLARD (DH), 5 p.m. (Crosstown Classic)
Feb. 19 (Mon.):  •  PHILANDER SMITH (DH), 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 24 (Sat.):  •  TOUGALOO (DH), 5 p.m.
Feb. 28 (Wed.):  •  TALLADEGA (DH), 7:30 p.m.
March 2-4 (Fri.-Sun.):  Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament, TBA
March 14-20 (Wed.-Tue.):  Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National Championship, Kansas City, Mo.

•  Gulf Coast Athletic Conference game
(DH) Doubleheader with Xavier’s women
All times are Central except where noted
Schedule is subject to change

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