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Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 10:27 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL PREVIEW
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La Salle (7-5) at No. 23 Xavier (10-4)
LA SALLE EXPLORERS
La Salle Explorers
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XAVIER (OH) MUSKETEERS
Xavier (OH) Musketeers
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CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- David West hopes to lead 23rd-ranked Xavier to its sixth straight win over La Salle, when the teams continue Atlantic 10 Conference play Tuesday night at the Cintas Center.

West scored 26 points in Saturday's 99-83 win over St. Bonaventure as the Musketeers (10-4, 1-1) avoided a third straight loss.

West had struggled during losses to Alabama and Richmond. He was scoreless in the second half at Alabama on January 4 and limited to 10 points in last Tuesday's 67-59 setback at Richmond.

But West, who is the team's leading scorer at 19.2 points per game, shot 11-of-14 as Xavier won for the first time since losing point guard Lionel Chalmers to a broken foot.

Besides West's big night, guard Romain Sato scored 25 points and sophomore forward Keith Jackson added a career-high 21 points.

Xavier has won five straight meetings with the Explorers (7-5, 1-1) and holds a 20-4 advantage in the all-time series.

West collected 18 and 10 rebounds in a 68-53 home win over La Salle last Feburary 28. He also matched a career-high with 31 points in Xavier's 71-67 road win last January 19.

La Salle rebounded from its first conference loss with Saturday's 67-49 triumph over George Washington. Freshman Steven Smith scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds and fellow freshman Jermaine Thomas added 17 points as the Explorers won for the fourth time in five games.

Smith's big game earned him Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors for the second straight week. He averaged 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds last week.


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