Xavier making more school history
CINCINNATI (AP) — The 20th win may have come fast, but it wasn’t fancy.
Trevon Bluiett had his fifth double-double of the season, and No. 6 Xavier overcame poor shooting and beat St. John’s 90-83 on Wednesday night, getting its 20th win faster than any team in school history. But it didn’t come easily against the league’s last-place team.
Bluiett had 15 points and 13 rebounds as Xavier (20-2, 8-2 Big East) held a slim lead most of the way but couldn’t put it away until the closing minutes. Bluiett was only 4 of 14 from the field, typical of Xavier’s night. The Musketeers struggled to make shots consistently and never led by more than nine points.
“We should have played better,” said Myles Davis, who scored all of his 16 points in the second half. “We allowed way too many points. They also stopped us a lot, messed up our offense, took us out of our flow. Of course when you feel you should play better, you feel a little down. But we won.”
And they were the first to reach 20 this season.
“I told our guys they’ve got some positive feelings about the game, some negative feelings about the game, but we were the first team to get 20 wins in Division I,” coach Chris Mack said. “To be the first team to have 20 wins means we’re doing something right.”
St. John’s (7-16, 0-10) hasn’t won since Dec. 13. The Red Storm’s 13-game losing streak matches Delaware for the longest active one in Division I, according to STATS.
Felix Balamou had a career-high 20 for St. John’s, which scored the second-most points against Xavier this season.
“That was a winning performance,” coach Chris Mullin said. “It’s not going to show in the win-loss column, but that’s winning basketball. I’m proud of my team.”
The Red Storm were coming off a 68-53 loss to No. 3 Villanova. They trailed by only one point at halftime, but Villanova took control by opening the second half with a 22-7 run. They stayed close against Xavier the whole way.
“Maybe it wasn’t what outsiders or fans expected, but that’s what happens in the Big East,” Mack said. “We ran into a team that played extremely hard for 40 minutes despite their record coming in. There were some plays where I thought we could have busted it open, but we didn’t make them.”
Both teams shot poorly in the half, with Xavier holding a slim lead most of the time. St. John’s shot 37.8 percent from the field and was 1 of 8 beyond the arc. Xavier shot 36.4 percent and was 3 of 12 on 3-point attempts.
Xavier forward Jalen Reynolds picked up two fouls in the opening 40 seconds of the game and went to the bench. Reynolds finished with nine points, four rebounds and 1-of-8 shooting on free throws.
Ron Mvouika and Malik Ellison hit 3s to open the second half, giving the Red Storm their biggest lead at 42-38. Davis hit a 3-pointer, two free throws and a floater that got Xavier going, and Edmond Sumner’s fastbreak dunk put the Musketeers ahead 61-54.
The fouls started piling up on St. John’s, with Mvouika and Christian Jones picking up four each by the midpoint of the half. Bluiett’s step-back jump shot gave Xavier its biggest lead at 74-65.
When Reynolds came out of the game early in the second half, there was no open seat in the middle of the bench so he grabbed a towel and sat by himself on the baseline for a few minutes.
St. John’s: The Red Storm blocked five shots. They lead the Big East and are tied for fourth nationally with 6.1 per game. … St. John’s used the fifth different starting lineup in the last seven games.
Xavier: Forward James Farr pulled a hamstring late in an 86-65 win at DePaul on Saturday. He was back at practice on Tuesday and got into the game after Reynolds picked up his second foul. Farr had 11 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes.
St. John’s: Hosts Butler on Saturday.
Xavier: Hosts Marquette on Saturday.
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