Xavier Downs Colonels in Non-Conference Action
Jan. 9, 2006
CINCINNATI - The Xavier men's basketball team and senior Brian Thornton each posted the second highest point totals of the season as the Musketeers ran past visiting Eastern Kentucky, 82-63, Monday evening at Cintas Center. Thornton, the current Atlantic 10 Player of the Week, finished with 25 points and nine rebounds and helped XU improve to 10-2 on the season. EKU drops to 6-8 on the year.
With 13:40 remaining in the game, Josh Duncan slammed home a dish from Brian Thornton to push the XU advantage to 44-35. The basket would give Xavier its largest lead up to that point but the Colonels would connect on their next three shots from long range and cut the Xavier lead to only two at 46-44 with 12:22 left in the contest.
The two squads would play back and forth before the Musketeers would put the game out of reach with a 14-3 run that started with 5:16 remaining in the contest. Dedrick Finn capped the XU run with a free throw at the 1:25 mark.
"The final score isn't indicative of the way the game was played," said head coach Sean Miller. "I thought Matt Witt made great shots. He has an uncanny ability to get his shot off. I can say there are a whole lot of teams who would have lost to Eastern Kentucky tonight. But I thought Justin Cage did a great job on him. He's willing to do whatever it takes to win. The match-up called for a bigger guy [defending Witt]. Thank goodness he was there to slide over."
Thornton would finish with a team-high 25 points and nine rebounds, just missing his third-straight double-double. He scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half and finished 11-of-17 from the floor and 3-for-5 from the line to go along with three assists, two blocks and two steals. Justin Doellman and Stanley Burrell would also end in double figures with 15 and 11 points, respectively. Freshman B.J. Raymond established a new career high of nine points and finished shooting 3-of-4 on the evening, including 1-for-2 from long range.
EKU's Matt Witt would tie his career high with 27 points on the evening. The 27 points by Witt were also the most points scored by an opposing player against XU this season. His seven three pointers made in the game tied the school record and EKU's 48-percent shooting from long range marked the highest Xavier, who was leading the nation in three-point field goal defense, has allowed all season.
After Doellman gave XU the opening lead with the first basket of the game, Eastern Kentucky would answer and take the lead after a layup by Jason McLeish. Xavier would not reclaim the lead until two Doellman free throws made the score 18-16 with 11:40 remaining in the first half.
The first half saw six ties and six lead changes over the first 12 minutes of action before XU finally took the lead for good at the 6:40 mark when a Thornton dunk made the score 23-22. The Musketeers would hold Eastern Kentucky without a field goal over the last 4:15 of the half and went into the break with a 32-28 lead.
Doellman would finish the half as XU's leading scorer with eight points after hitting all two of his shots from the field, including a three pointer and three free throw attempts. Witt would end the half with 11 points after scoring 11 of Colonels' first 12 points of the game.
Xavier now leads the all-time series with the Colonels 12-5 and has won the last seven contests. XU 10-2 start mark the best start by the blue and white since the 2000-01 squad, which went 11-2 before falling in its third conference game to UMass, 75-64, at Cintas Center.
Xavier will return to action on Saturday night, January 14, as the Musketeers travel to Charlotte for the first Atlantic 10 meeting between the two teams. Tip is set for 7:00 p.m. at Halton Arena. XU leads the all-time series after winning the only meeting between the two schools on January 4, 1971. Xavier took down the 49ers by a score of 74-68 at Schmidt Fieldhouse.