Tuesday, January 21, 2014
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Xavier holds off DePaul

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[January 21, 2014]  ROSEMONT  Xavier players say they hope they learned a lesson about complacency Monday.

Carrying an 18-point lead into the second half against DePaul, the Musketeers struggled against stepped-up Blue Demons pressure before finally locking down an 84-74 Big East victory at Allstate Arena.

"We talked about that at halftime  do not let them come out and make a run," said Xavier forward Isaiah Philmore, who finished with 13 points. ("But) in the second half we came out very nonchalant, just lobbing the ball around while they were turning up the pressure. That's something that's not acceptable."

Guard Semaj Christon scored 27 points and forward Justin Martin added 18 to lead Xavier (15-4, 5-1 Big East) to its second consecutive win and 10th in 11 games.

DePaul forward Cleveland Melvin scored 25 points, and guard Billy Garrett Jr. added 18 as the Blue Demons (10-10, 2-5) dropped their second straight.


DePaul got to within 72-65 with 5:50 to play. The surge stopped as the Blue Demons hit just three of seven field-goal tries and went just 2-for-5 from the free-throw line the rest of the way.

"The first half we didn't have the leadership, and we really didn't come together until the second half," Garrett said. "We cut the lead, but the margin was too big."

DePaul shot just 22-for-38 (57.9 percent) at the foul line overall, and it shot 11-for-29 (37.9 percent) from the field in the second half.

Xavier shot a season-high 67.9 percent (19-for-28) from the field in the first half, and it made 58.3 percent (28-for-28) for the game.

The Musketeers, who never trailed, sprinted to a quick 11-5 lead behind Christon's five points. The Blue Demons scrambled back and forced a brief 22-22 tie on forward Forrest Robinson's rebound tip-in.

It was the game's lone deadlock, as Xavier launched a 13-5 run over the next 2:46 to open a 35-24 advantage.

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Xavier's lead never slipped below eight points, and the visitors closed the half with an 11-1 run in the final 2:29 for a 50-32 advantage.

Christon had 19 first-half points. Melvin topped the Blue Demons with 12 points before the break.

"The first half we came out ready to play," Christon said. "We all came out ready to play, knocking down shots, and everybody hit their free throws.

"The second half we were more relaxed. We took our foot off the gas."

Despite the big deficit, an energized DePaul team emerged after halftime. Utilizing a full-court press, the Blue Demons forced four turnovers and outscored the Musketeers 15-7 in the first 4:26 to turn to cut the deficit to 57-47.

Two Melvin free throws later cut the Xavier lead to 61-54 with nearly 12 minutes to play.

The Musketeers pushed the lead back to 71-58 with 9:03 showing, but the Blue Demons were not finished. DePaul got within seven before a 9-1 run over 2:56 then gave Xavier an 81-66 lead with just under three minutes to play. The advantage never slipped below 10 points the rest of the way.

NOTES: DePaul G Billy Garrett was selected the Big East rookie of the week for the fourth time this season after averaging 16 points and four assists in two games, including a career-high 21 points in a 77-75 win over St. John's. ... Garrett leads the league in free-throw percentage (.962). ... DePaul leads the all-time series 8-4. ... Xavier G Dee Davis landed on the Big East honor roll after collecting 15 points and seven assists in an 80-67 win over Georgetown. ... Xavier G Semaj Christon is second in league scoring with a 22.8-point average. ... The Musketeers earned a sprinkling of votes in two national polls this week, though they did not make the Top 25. ... Xavier plays at Providence on Saturday, while DePaul travels to Seton Hall the same day.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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