By Ben Molnar, For The Miami Student
Miami opens its 2015-2016 season against Xavier University on the road Friday. It's the third time Red and White have played Xavier in a season openers. Overall, Miami is 73-37 in season openers.
The Musketeers, a Sweet 16 team last season, are a tough task for the RedHawks, as they return three starters. Sophomore guard Trevon Bluiett was Xavier's second leading scorer last year, averaging 11 points per game. Junior shooting guard Myles Davis averaged 10.6 points per game, while junior forward Jalen Reynolds averaged 9.9 points per game and leads returns in field goal percentage (61.8).
With eight seniors on the squad, Miami head coach John Cooper expects someone to step up as the leader.
"Anytime you have a group with as many seniors as we do, one of the things that's important is certainly that you establish leadership and someone steps up and becomes the voice," Cooper said. "I think this group as a whole is probably ahead of any other year we've been here, simply because they've been through it before."
One of the leaders the 'Hawks may turn to is senior guard Geovonie McKnight, who has played in every game during his Miami career (94) and is a two-year returning starter for the RedHawks.
Friday is the 101st meeting between Miami and Xavier, and the Musketeers have a slight advantage with a 53-47 edge in the series. When playing at home, the Musketeers have a 35-17 record against the RedHawks. Xavier has won the last two meetings between the teams, both at the Cintas Center, and the last five meetings on their home court.
The last time the teams clashed was on Nov. 20, 2013 with Xavier notching a 77-51 win. The RedHawks last win in the series was in at Millett Hall on Dec. 1, 2010, 75-64. The team's last win at Xavier was on Nov 22, 2004, 66-54.
The Red and White are riding a bit of momentum, as they beat Ohio Midwestern University in their preseason game by a large 90-24 margin. MU outscored the Rams 49-6 in the second half.
Tipoff is 7 p.m. Friday in Cincinnati, Ohio.