No. 6 Xavier erases 18-point deficit, beats Wake 78-70
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Things have come pretty easy so far for No. 6 Xavier. The Musketeers were in deep trouble against Wake Forest before two young guards led a huge comeback.
Trevon Bluiett scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, and Xavier beat Wake Forest 78-70 on Tuesday night in the Skip Prosser Classic.
Freshman Edmond Sumner added 13 of his season-high 21 points after halftime for the Musketeers (12-0). Debuting at the highest national ranking in school history, they trailed by 18 in the first half and 15 at halftime before shooting 59 percent in the second half.
''Not that it was going to be a cakewalk, but just ... we've been doing well, had a lot of success up to this point. Like, `Who are you?''' Bluiett said, referring to the Demon Deacons. ''Coach came in at halftime and kind of set us straight, and told us that we weren't playing the ball that we usually play on defense and offense. We calmed down and kind of got everything together.''
Bryant Crawford had 16 points, fellow freshman John Collins added 11 and Devin Thomas had 10 for the Demon Deacons (8-3). Their best chance to tie it came when they trailed 69-67 and Crawford was called for charging - then given a technical foul.
Myles Davis hit both free throws, but after that, Wake Forest trailed by four points with the ball on three straight possessions - and came up empty on all three trips downcourt. James Farr then hit a big layup to push Xavier's lead to six with 44.9 seconds left.
Farr finished with 12 points for Xavier, which erased its huge deficit - and kept the best start in school history alive - by scoring 12 straight points during the 26-6 run that was keyed by Sumner and Bluiett.
''It was actually a good test for our team, because we never got put in that position this year,'' Bluiett said.
Those two scored 10 points apiece during that surge, with Sumner putting Xavier ahead to stay with a driving layup one possession before he ended the burst with a falling-down 3 in front of the bench that made it 52-49 with just over 13 minutes remaining.
Crawford scored 13 points during a first half dominated by the Demon Deacons, who went up 36-18 on Cornelius Hudson's steal and layup with just under 4 minutes before the break.
''We just threw the game away, basically,'' Thomas said.
Xavier entered with the nation's fifth-best rebounding margin (plus-13.5), and the Musketeers finished with a 42-35 advantage on the boards - including 22-15 in the second half. Sumner and Bluiett hit layups off offensive rebounds on consecutive possessions with about 9 minutes left. ''Our kids refused to lose and if we miss a shot, we're going to go get it,'' Xavier coach Chris Mack said. ''You don't really coach that.''
This was the fifth meeting in the event that bears the name of Prosser, who coached at Xavier from 1994-2001 before moving to Wake Forest, where he coached until his death in 2007. Mack was on Prosser's staff at Wake Forest from 2001-04 before returning to the Musketeers. The schools met once a season in Prosser's memory from 2010-13 but the series was not played last year.
Xavier: The Musketeers' 18-point deficit was by far their largest at any point this season, surpassing the seven-point hole they escaped against Alabama on Nov. 26. They also trailed at halftime (43-28) for the first time this season.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons were trying for their biggest non-conference win at home since they knocked off then-No. 3 Kansas in 2000. They were playing host to a ranked non-ACC team for the first time since 2004.
Xavier is at No. 17 Villanova on Dec. 31.
Wake Forest is at LSU on Dec. 29.
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