Xavier accomplishes feat for first time in 20 years
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — It’s been a long time since Xavier was able to earn a Top 10 victory away from home.
That drought ended in a big way Tuesday night.
Jalen Reynolds had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and the seventh-ranked Musketeers held off a late rally to beat No. 10 Providence 75-68, Xavier’s first road win over a Top Ten team in 20 years.
Trevon Bluiett added 15 points for the Musketeers (18-2, 6-2 Big East), whose last road win over a Top 10 team came at then-No. 1 Cincinnati in 1996.
Reynolds said though there was excitement about the victory and his performance, there is also lots of hunger still inside the Musketeers locker room.
“I really wanted to focus in,” Reynolds said. “Getting a double-double is a good feeling, but there’s still more games to be won.”
With Bluiett battling late foul trouble and James Farr already fouled out, the Friars used a 16-5 run to cut what had been a 17-point deficit to 64-58 with 3:44 remaining.
Xavier was able to get the lead back up to double digits. But after Bluiett fouled out, a dunk by Kris Dunn capped a 7-0 run by the Friars to make it 68-65.
The Musketeers held, though, getting some distance in the final minute via a 3-pointer by J.P. Macura and some free throws.
Xavier got 25 points from its bench, led by Farr with 11 points and eight rebounds.
“Our team has been deep,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “Some nights, you don’t know who’s going to step up. It’s been different guys on different nights.”
Providence coach Ed Cooley said that ultimately was too much for the Friars.
“I thought their depth bothered us,” Cooley said.
Ben Bentil led Providence (17-4, 5-3) with 25 points while Dunn added 16.
The game started with seven straight points by Xavier, followed by a 13-0 run by the Friars.
Xavier handled the Friars’ zone in the first half, getting a lot of mid-range jumpers to fall late in the shot clock.
Farr was particularly accurate from the outside. He went 5 for 6 from the field and scored all but two of his points in the half from outside the paint. The exception was a transition dunk in the middle of a spurt in which he scored seven consecutive points.
The Friars struggled offensively throughout the opening 20 minutes, shooting just 31 percent (10 for 32) from the field and 1 for 11 from 3-point range.
Their shots seemed rushed at times in the halfcourt, with Musketeers often making the Friars go to their second and third options.
It resulted in a handful of scoring droughts, including one 4-minute stretch in which Providence missed six straight shots and committed five turnovers.
Xavier: Improved to 4-1 against ranked teams this season. … All 18 of its wins have been by at least seven points. … Had 12 turnovers in the first half.
Providence: Committed 10 turnovers and had 10 fastbreak points in the first half. … Dropped to 4-2 against ranked teams. …Tuesday night marked the first time since the Friars moved into the Dunkin’ Donuts Center before the 1972-73 season that they were ranked in the Top 10 and hosted another Top 10 team.
QUOTABLE: “When you have a Top 10 team like Providence, you never know when that run is going to happen,” Xavier guard Myles Davis said. “The thing is that we stuck together and kept playing hard and focused on our defense even when our offense wasn’t falling.””
STAR WATCH: Though the Friars did their best to contain him, Bluiett hit some big shots in the second half and reached double figures for the 19th time this season.
TALENT SEARCH: The quality of play in the Big East this season has translated into a lot of attention from NBA scouts. That was the case Tuesday night, with scouts from eight NBA teams in attendance at the Dunkin Donuts Center. The teams represented were: the Boston Celtics, New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers.
Xavier is at DePaul on Saturday.
Providence is at Georgetown on Saturday.
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