Xavier held off a late Providence rally to defeat the Friars 85-74 in Cincinnati. The victory gives Xavier an 11-3 record in the BIG EAST, keeping their slim hopes of the regular season conference title alive.
The Musketeers came out of the gates on fire, as they were able to take control of the game early with their offensive play. A 10-0 scoring run to gave Xavier a 14 point lead with 12 minutes left to go in the half, a margin they would keep for most of the game. Xavier scored a total of 52 points in the opening half, shooting 52% from the floor, including making seven of their 12 three point attempts.
What continues to be the most impressive part of Xavier's offensive prowess is the balance that they display throughout their lineup. The Musketeers had four players reach double digits in scoring, led by Trevon Bluiett with 23 points. Jalen Reynolds had another physically dominant performance, as he contributed 10 points and 15 rebounds of his own. Reynolds' play was a big reason the Musketeers outscored Providence by 32-10 points in the paint.
Myles Davis produced Xavier's most impressive performance tonight, Myles Davis recording the Musketeers' first triple-double since 2010, with 11 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists. It was exactly the type of play we've come to expect from the senior guard. Davis was by no means flashy in this game, but his steady play ignited Xavier on both sides of the court, as it has all season.
Despite being down double digits for most of the game, Providence fought hard until the final whistle. The Friars brought the score to within 6 points with just over a minute to play, but the lead was simply too much to overcome against the 8th ranked team in the country.
Kris Dunn had another strong game with 23 points, while Ben Bentil added 17 of his own. The Friars simply could not slow down the Musketeers' offense early, and did not have the offensive firepower to make a late comeback push. The loss is the 5th for Providence in their last 7 games, which obviously is not a good sign entering the final stretch of the season. Providence has dealt with injuries, along with the most difficult part of their schedule during this slump, so there is no reason the Friars can't turn their play around by March.