Dee Davis leads Xavier past Gant, Missouri 74-58
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Xavier took an unusual route toward winning its first true road game of the season Saturday.
''It's never easy,'' coach Chris Mack said after defeating Missouri 74-58.
Despite leading by five at halftime, the Musketeers' top three scorers combined for zero field goals up to that point. The team then led just 44-41 with 11:36 remaining after Tramaine Isabell's layup for Missouri, but Xavier (8-2) responded with an 11-2 run and gradually pulled away.
Dee Davis scored a season-high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting while Myles Davis and Brandon Randolph each added 11.
''We have all the confidence in Dee,'' Myles Davis said. ''Dee's our leader. We move when he moves. We go as fast as he goes. Dee stepped up today.''
Johnathan Williams III led Missouri (5-5) with 17 points and nine rebounds while Jakeenan Gant added 13 in his first appearance of the year. The freshman missed the Tigers' first nine games while the school investigated his eligibility regarding ''receipt of benefits.''
Xavier entered the contest leading the Big East with 83.1 points per game and shooting 52.6 percent from the field. The Musketeers looked like they would come short of matching those figures before starting their second-half run.
The Musketeers finished 24 of 45 (53.3 percent) overall, including 8 of 18 from 3-point range, and 18 of 22 from the free-throw line.
Xavier looked like it would run away early.
Missouri converted just one of its first 10 shots and trailed 18-5 with 9:36 remaining before the break. But the Tigers rallied, clawing back to within 32-27 at halftime thanks to a 7-0 run and Gant.
A 6-foot-8 forward and former Mr. Basketball in the state of Georgia, Gant elicited the game's biggest roars, the first of which came when he entered the game with 8:51 left in the first half. He proceeded to score seven points before the break and another six after it.
Gant made four of his eight shots from the field and added four free throws. Missouri coach Kim Anderson said he thought Gant played ''aggressively but not selfishly.''
''He's in pretty good shape,'' Anderson said. ''I told him before the game, `You may play two or three minutes and then come out.' And he got in there, and he was comfortable. Even when he's been sitting out, he's been working hard.''
Missouri finished 21 of 54 from the field, including just 1 of 16 from behind the arc. The Tigers entered the game making 39.6 percent of their 3-pointers, good for second in the Southeastern Conference.
''We've just got to keep going,'' said an emotional Keith Shamburger, who finished with seven points. ''We can't put our heads down. We've just got to keep going from here and just keep trying to get better.''
Xavier: The Musketeers moved to 14-4 against SEC opponents since the 2008 season, including a win against Missouri in 2008. Xavier wraps up a stretch of three SEC opponents in four games with a trip to Auburn on next Saturday.
Missouri: The Tigers said Thursday after barely defeating Elon that they would take any win they could get. Fading against Xavier likely won't help the team's confidence heading into its annual rivalry matchup with Illinois.
TURNING IT OVER
Xavier committed 17 turnovers one game after committing a season-high 18. Davis attributed part of the issue Saturday to playing on an opponent's court for the first time.
''I think we'll be fine,'' Davis said. ''We have good ball handlers. As long as everybody plays with confidence, I don't think we'll be worried about turnovers.''
Xavier visits Auburn next Saturday.
Missouri plays Illinois in St. Louis next Saturday.