Dannton Jackson still hasn’t forgotten Feb. 28, 2012.
Jackson, the coach for a Xavier men’s basketball team that is currently in pursuit of their fourth consecutive Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular-season title, said that one loss from 2012 still eats at him.
Despite owning a 20-3 record against Dillard since taking the job at Xavier, Jackson said that the loss the Gold Rush suffered to their crosstown rival in the 2012 GCAC tournament keeps his competitive fire lit whenever his team squares off with the Bleu Devils.
Jackson and his Xavier squad will get one more crack at Dillard, as the two schools square off in their 129th meeting in Saturday’s Bleu Devil Classic.
The game will tip at 5 p.m. at Dillard.
“They beat us two years ago in the conference tournament. That’s one of those wounds that you always remember,” Jackson said. “It’s definitely a heated rivalry for me. I don’t think we’ve ever played extremely well against Dillard. For some reason, they do a good job against us.”
“I always tell folks it’s our version of Duke-North Carolina, except it’s down Gentilly and down Carrolton Boulevard.”
Xavier (16-6, 5-1) comes into the game ranked No. 19 in the NAIA and tied for second in the GCAC with a 16-6 record and has defeated the Bleu Devils (3-17, 1-4) in 10 consecutive regular season matchups.
The Gold Rush hope their outside shooting combo of Morris Wright and Anthony Goode can overpower a Dillard team that is ranked last in NAIA Division I in field goal percentage defense, one of four teams allowing opponents to shoot at least 50 percent from the field.
Wright and Goode have combined for 86 3-pointers this season and both are shooting well over 40 percent from beyond the arc (Wright at 44 percent and Goode 47 percent).
“I feel like we’re gelling right now,” Jackson said. “They’ve always played us close, despite what the records are. We know that Dillard is going to be tough. We just have to execute and stick to our game plan. If we do that, I think we’ll be fine.”
Dillard, coached by Bernard Griffith, enter Saturday’s game with a 3-17 record, losing 14 of their past 15 games.
Despite their recent woes, the Bleu Devils will be looking to the playmaking of guard Houston Chatman to pull off their second conference win of the season.
The sophomore enters Saturday’s game leading the Bleu Devils in scoring (11.7 points per game), assists (3.9 per game) and steals (1.45 per game). He tied for a team high with 11 points and added three rebounds and four steals in Dillard’s last conference win against Edward Waters College on Jan. 19.
Chatman scored 17 points in last year’s game at Dent Hall, which went down to the wire and ended with Xavier pulling out a close 61-54 victory in the end.
The Xavier and Dillard women’s teams kick off the day at 3 p.m.
Saturday’s game between the Gold Nuggets (12-10, 5-1 in GCAC play) and the Lady Bleu Devils (11-8, 3-2) will be a matchup two of the top three teams in the conference, but just like with the men’s teams, Xavier has had the advantage over Dillard in their most recent contests.
Xavier has come out victorious in 12 straight games against the Lady Bleu Devils and in 21 of their past 22 meetings.