Court side at Sears Centre

Indiana’s staff scouts Xavier Friday night. From left: Ray McCallum, Travis Steele, Dan Dakich.Lavender, who is listed at 5-7 but might be shorter, has come up with two clutch baskets here. Both times he got to the hole and had an easy lay-in; the first time out of the half-court offense and the second time in transition.

Xavier leads 76-65 with 32 seconds left.

——–

Xavier 62, Kent State 49 with 6:37 left.

The Musketeers are pulling away with better execution and athleticism.

Although, as I type that Kent State pops a guy open on a ball screen and he hits a 3.

Anyway, Indiana fans should be seeing plenty of reasons to get excited for tomorrow’s game (if it is against Xavier). It’s not Michigan State-UCLA or Duke-Illinois. But it’s something.

Besides, how long can you really watch Eric Gordon torture the less-privileged programs of the country? He needs to have the opportunity to face a quality opponent.

——

Josh Duncan could cause Indiana trouble tomorrow if the Musketeers advance (and the Hoosiers do, too). He’s just hit a 3-pointer and gotten to the lane for another basket. Xavier is led by its superb, tiny point guard Drew Lavender.

Duncan comes up with another basket, this one off a slam. And he did it in a way that Indiana could have trouble coping with: he ranged out to the top of the key for a pass, then dished and headed to the hoop. He took a return pass and dunked uncontested.

Duncan’s able to get out to the perimeter like that with some consistency. D.J. White has been having to handle perimeter big men this season, but they played for Chattanooga, Longwood and UNC-Wilmington.

With White being relieved of some of his scoring duties by Eric Gordon and Armon Bassett’s superb early play, and some of his rebounding responsibilities by the girthy nimbleness of DeAndre Thomas, White might best help this team by concentrating on being a lock-down defender in some situations.

——–

Seating capacity here for basketball games is about 10,000. There are probably 3,000 here now.

The Sears Centre is also used for arena football, indoor lacrosse and soccer and ice hockey.

Also, Billy Joel will be here on Dec. 1, meaning this place will also be used for the butchering of the song “Piano Man” by drunken fans who insist on singing along.

By the way, it will be nine o’clock on a Friday before the Indiana game actually begins.

——–

Kelvin Sampson has a cold.

He’s not feeling well, but he’s out here awaiting the start of the second half. Xavier leads 31-30.

The rest of Indiana’s coaching staff — assistants Dan Dakich, Ray McCallum and Jeff Meyer — are seated in press row scouting this game.

———

I took a minute to tour the cozy Sears Centre, and to my eyes it looks like about 50 percent of the fans in the building are wearing Indiana sweatshirts. Its an hour before the scheduled game time, but things are running late here because of a double-overtime game earlier.

——-

Paltry crowd gathered here at the Sears Centre as Kent State and Xavier engage in a spirited first-half of Invitational Challenge basketball.

Two solid young coaches on the bench, with Jim Christian guiding the Golden Flashes and Sean Miller leading the Musketeers.

Departed Indiana assistant Rob Senderoff worked under Christian at Kent State before being swiped away by Kelvin Sampson. Senderoff, you probably recall, was pinned with most of the impermissible calls to recruits made by Sampson and his staff during their first year on the job.