- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2008

C.J. Anderson is a wing player for the Xavier Musketeers, but that doesn’t mean he has to spend his time patrolling the perimeter.

When Josh Duncan, Xavier’s top big man, spent large portions of the game in foul trouble, Anderson ignited the Musketeers’ offense in an 85-78 victory against Purdue yesterday at Verizon Center to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

“C.J.’s style is unique,” Xavier coach Sean Miller said. “I’m not going to give the scouting report because it is evident — he’s not going to shoot past 10 feet. He just isn’t. He has a unique way of getting to the basket, and he has a toughness about him.”

Anderson, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound junior with a chiseled physique, used that unique style to muscle his way to the basket against the younger, skinnier Boilermakers. Anderson led the Musketeers with 18 points, including seven straight near the end of the first half and six straight to open the second.

When Purdue went on an 8-2 run for a 28-27 lead, Anderson converted a three-point play to put Xavier back in front with 3:30 left in the first half.

After Purdue’s Keaton Grant hit a 3-pointer to tie the game 35-35 seconds after halftime, Anderson came right back with consecutive three-point plays for a six-point advantage.

“Coach wanted us to be aggressive and attack,” Anderson said. “He said before the game that the way they play defense would allow us to be able to get to the free throw line, and we just tried to take what coach said and put it into the game plan.”

Anderson is one of six Xavier players who have averaged between 10.2 and 11.9 points this season. He checks in at fourth on the team with 10.5 to go with 6.0 rebounds a game. Anderson led Xavier with seven boards against Purdue.

That depth makes the Musketeers a tough team to defend, but their versatility is also a headache for opposing coaches. Duncan is essentially the team’s center, but he is also one of their top 3-point shooters. As Miller said, Anderson won’t bother much with perimeter shots, but typical small forwards have trouble keeping him out of the paint.

He is also no stranger to scoring in bunches. Anderson had 19 points and eight rebounds against Indiana and 21 and 11, both season highs, at home against St. Bonaventure.

This year has been a new experience for Anderson. He spent the first two seasons of his NCAA career starring for Manhattan, averaging 16.1 and then 18.8 points. He sat out last year after transferring and has meshed well as just another option in Xavier’s balanced attack.

“I knew the whole time, even when I was sitting out last year, that coming to Xavier was the right choice,” Anderson said. “I knew that Xavier had a lot of good players. I knew Coach Miller was a fantastic coach, and I just wanted to come and be a part of something special. And that’s what we did.”

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