No. 12 Xavier 70, Georgia 56

Tu Holloway had a bag of ice on his shooting hand after the

game, which might normally be an ominous sign for No. 12

Xavier.

Not with the way their newcomers are playing so far this

season.

Holloway scored 12 points despite a sore finger on his right

hand Friday night, and the Musketeers turned to their balance and

their youngsters for a 70-56 victory over poor-shooting

Georgia.

Xavier (4-0) extended its success against the Southeastern

Conference by making full use of its roster for the first time this

season. Only one player was on the floor for more than 26 minutes –

center Kenny Frease, who had 12 points in 30 minutes.

Their senior point guard has more options than ever this

season.

”It makes the game a lot easier for me,” Holloway said. ”I

don’t have to force the issue and sometimes take bad shots or have

bad turnovers because I’m trying to make plays. As a point guard,

that’s what I want. Maybe if I was a shooting guard, I wouldn’t be

happy. But I’m a point guard. It makes the game easy for me when I

can dish the rock off.”

Holloway had to do more passing than shooting on Friday. He bent

a finger on his shooting hand while diving for a ball in practice

last week. Coach Chris Mack said the injury prevented him from

taking any long shots.

”He’s such a tough kid. He just seems to get beat up little

bit,” Mack said. ”He let the game come to him. He was in attack

mode and played hard defensively and didn’t let that stop him from

being the leader he is.”

Georgia (3-2) missed its first 11 shots, fell behind 10-0 and

never recovered, trailing by 36 points midway through the second

half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 14 for the Bulldogs, who shot

32 percent from the field.

”We got off to a very slow start,” coach Mark Fox said.

Xavier has won eight of its last nine games against SEC teams

since 2008, beating Georgia three times during that span. The

Musketeers also have wins over Florida, Auburn and Louisiana

State.

Their only SEC defeat was at home to Florida last season, the

Musketeers’ only loss in their last 43 games at the Cintas

Center.

Xavier won in Athens 65-57 last season, when Holloway failed to

score in the first half, then had 18 to help the Musketeers pull

away.

Holloway is trying to get into a rhythm after a tough opening

stretch. He had to sit out the opener against Morgan State because

he played too many summer games, a violation of NCAA rules. He

returned and had 24 points against IPFW, but was physically subpar

in a 66-60 win over Miami of Ohio a week ago.

Holloway was light-headed in the days leading up to the Miami

game, in which he scored only nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. Now,

he’s also contending with the sore hand.

The Bulldogs were coming off 61-57 win over Notre Dame on

Tuesday in the CBE Classic consolation game. They lost to No. 20

California a day earlier.

The Musketeers showed off their newcomers while taking control.

At one juncture during the 10-0 opening run, Mack had freshman

point guard Dee Davis, freshman forward Dez Wells, freshman forward

Justin Martin, junior Travis Taylor and junior guard Mark Lyons on

the floor. Taylor finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

”We’re not a finished product yet,” Taylor said. ”Today

showed a great sight for the future, but we’re still bonding.”

Mack wanted to get his newcomers into the game early and let

them play significant roles.

”I love our freshmen,” Mack said. ”I’ve never coached where I

felt I have as many players that are talented enough and working

hard enough to get into the game. I’ve never had that as a

coach.”

Xavier pushed the lead to 14-3 with Georgia going 1 of 16 from

the field with six turnovers in the first 10 minutes. Wells had the

most crowd-pleasing play during the run, taking the ball around his

back to avoid a steal while driving for a layup.

It was 28-19 at the half, with seven Xavier players scoring,

none more than six points. The Bulldogs were 6 of 28 from the field

with 11 turnovers.

Holloway got involved during a 12-point run that opened the

second half and pushed the lead to 40-19. He hit a pair of free

throws, a layup and a fadeaway jumper. Georgia missed five shots

and had two turnovers during the decisive spurt.