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Oxford basketball to host Lafayette Friday for first of season’s cross-town meetings

The first of two cross-town rivalry games between Oxford and Lafayette will play out Friday night on Oxford’s home court.

For both schools, the game marks one of the last few in the non-division slate before entering regional play following their winter breaks. It’s the time of year when boys teams begin to integrate football players into their roster, starting to truly look more like the teams they’ll become by the end of January and the late playoff push.

Oxford girls (8-3) vs. Lafayette girls (7-0)

As the Lady Commodores basketball team take their undefeated record on the road Friday night, the Oxford girls will be the fourth of six 6A schools the 5A Lafayette girls have scheduled so far in the season. Sure, the Commodores have blown some teams out, as they’re prone to do, but they’ve also grown from pulling out some really close games this season.

Lafayette has beaten Hernando twice and South Panola, two of the three games on the road, by a combined total of 12 points. The first of two Hernando games went to overtime. As expected, the Lady Commodores are getting a lot of key contribution from seniors Azariah Buford and Kimaya Dixon, both of whom are averaging over 15 points. They’re also getting a lot of good run out of a really deep sophomore class.

On the Charger side, the Oxford girls are off to arguably the team’s best start since the 2015-16 season. At 8-3 early in the year, it’s one of the more balanced teams Cliff Orman has had in the past few years.

Sophomore Addison Howell is leading the team with 12.6 points per game, yet she’s one of three Chargers averaging between 9.2 and that 12.6 points per game. This Chargers team is also playing really well with their size inside. At 6-foot-1, senior Caliya Toles is nearly averaging a double-double for Oxford with 19 points and 9.7 rebounds.

A year ago, Lafayette swept Oxford 48-28 and 60-43. This year could be more competitive.

Oxford boys (7-5) vs. Lafayette boys (0-7)

To this point in the season, Oxford boys basketball’s record could be a little misleading. Two of the most recent losses come to schools from the D.C. area, with one more coming on the road in overtime.

Both teams are in the process of re-integrating players off the football roster, adding some fresh talent and depth. Oxford will still be without JJ Pegues and Byron Pearson in this meeting, as they’re playing Friday in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game.

For Oxford this season, everything starts and ends with senior guard Kylan Blackmon. In the team’s recent trip to D.C., Blackmon averaged 32.3 points, 10 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.6 steals. The EAGLE’s player of the year a season ago, he’s taken another step to leading the Chargers toward their hopes of a state finals appearance.

The 2019 season has been a struggle to this point for the Commodores team. Sitting winless going into the rivalry game, Lafayette has had to rely heavily on some younger players in 2019. Their second leading scorer, D.J. Davis, is an eighth grader. However, the player Lafayette really needs to be competitive is junior J.C. Dennis. Dennis already has three games of 19, 20 and 24 points this season. For the Commodores to be competitive Friday night, they’ll need another efficient game from Dennis.

Oxford swept last year’s two meetings 67-45 and 71-46.