No. 23 Xavier 66, Saint Louis 55
ST. LOUIS (AP)
Excuse Tu Holloway if he isn't good at sharing - because he definitely plays nicely.
Holloway scored 25 points and No. 23 Xavier defeated Saint Louis 66-55 Saturday to extend its winning streak to nine games and clinch the No. 1 seed at next week's Atlantic 10 tournament in Atlantic City, N.J..
The Musketeers weren't satisfied with already having clinched a tie for the conference regular-season title coming into the game against the Billikens.
''We didn't want to share a championship,'' Holloway said. ''We wanted to have it outright.''
The Musketeers (24-6, 15-1 Atlantic 10) have won 16 of 17 and have not lost since dropping a 66-62 decision at Charlotte on Feb. 2.
Mark Lyons, who scored 16 points for Xavier, said Holloway is the main reason for the Musketeers' success.
''He's one of the best players in the country regardless of position,'' Lyons said. ''We're lucky to have him on our team.''
Brian Conklin scored 14 points for Saint Louis (12-17, 6-10), which had its four-game winning streak snapped.
The taller Musketeers outrebounded the Billikens 45-26.
''We've got a little bit more experience right now, and I think we're a little more physical because of our age and because of their age, and we took advantage of that,'' said Xavier coach Chris Mack. ''Certainly, you could see that on the glass.''
Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus didn't disagree.
''It's frightening how much we have three freshmen on the floor; that's scary,'' he said. ''There's no one to play alongside of them to give you some stability.''
But Majerus added that he was not displeased with the way his front line performed.
''We set good screens,'' he said. ''We played physical. Our bigs played a good game.''
The Billikens trailed 31-21 at the half, but clawed their way back to get within 45-42 on Jordair Jett's three-point play with 9:44.
Kenny Frease, who had a double-double with 10 points and 12 boards, answered with a turnaround jumper. Holloway then converted a three-point play of his own when he was fouled on a drive to extend the lead back to 50-42 and essentially end the threat.
After Jett's bucket cut the lead to 52-44, Holloway stuck his nose back in it with a long-range, 3-pointer from the right wing.
''That's a big-time shot, the kind he's been making for us all year,'' Mack said.
Holloway got going early, hitting a 3-pointer 20 seconds into the contest and following with a bucket inside as the Musketeers jumped out to a 7-0 advantage.
Saint Louis started out ice cold, hitting just two of its first 18 shots. But Xavier couldn't capitalize, making only nine field goals in the first half.
After McLean drained two free throws to make it 27-13 with 3:43 left in the half, the Billikens went on an 8-2 run to close the gap to six points. Holloway hit two free throws with 1:06 left in the half to push the margin to 31-21 at the break.
Now that his team has the Atlantic 10 regular-season title in its grasp, Holloway wants to add the conference tournament title, too.
''We want to make it deep in the NCAA tournament and we want to win the Atlantic 10 tournament,'' Holloway said. ''When you're hungry like that, you don't allow yourself to let up.''
Sometimes being greedy is good.