Big First Half Carries Xavier Past DePaul, 84-74

Xavier won its fifth conference game of the season thanks in part to Semaj Christon's game-high 27 points.

Xavier won its fifth conference game of the season thanks in part to Semaj Christon's game-high 27 points.

Jan. 20, 2014

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CHICAGO- Xavier scored 50 points in the first half and withstood a scrappy second-half effort from DePaul (10-10, 2-5) to win its first BIG EAST road game, 84-74. The Musketeers shot a season-best 58.3 percent (28-of-48), but also committed a season-high 21 turnovers that allowed the Blue Demons to hang around.

Semaj Christon led the way for Xavier with a game-high 27 points, marking the fourth time in conference play that the sophomore guard has reached the 20-point plateau. Christon was an efficient 9-of-12 from the floor and 9-of-11 from the charity stripe. Justin Martinwas equally efficient, chipping in 18 points on 4-of-6 shooting and 7-of-9 from the free-throw line.

Entering the second stanza with an 18-point advantage, DePaul turned up the intensity and forced Xavier into 13 of its 21 turnovers after the intermission. The Blue Demons slowly whittled the lead to seven, 72-65, with 5:50 remaining. The Musketeers responded with a 9-1 run that started with an Isaiah Philmore layup and was capped by a layin from Erik Stenger.

The lead never reached single digits again as Xavier held on for a 10-point win, 84-74, and improved to 15-4 on the season, including 5-1 in the BIG EAST. DePaul dropped to 10-10 overall and 2-5 in league play.

Philmore closed the game with 13 points and seven boards, giving Xavier three players in double-figures. Dee Daviswas a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor for six points and handed out a game-high 6 assists.

The Musketeers received eight points from Brandon Randolph and six points from Matt Stainbrook. Despite playing only 21 minutes due to foul trouble, Stainbrook hauled in a game-high eight boards.

DePaul connected on 42.1 percent (24-of-57) of its field-goal attempts, including 26.7 percent (4-of-15) from long range. Xavier, which entered the game as the league's best rebounding team, won the battle of the boards, 37-29.

Xavier connected on its first four field goals of the game and continued the red-hot shooting effort throughout the half en route to building a 50-32 halftime advantage. Led by 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting from Christon and 14 points on 4-of-6 shot attempts from Martin, XU connected on 67.9 percent (19-of-28) of its shots in the frame, compared to just 46.4 percent (13-of-28) for DePaul.

The last time XU scored 50 points in the first half came in the opening game of last season, when the Musketeers poured in 68 points against Fairleigh Dickinson.

The Musketeers will next take the hardwood at noon on Saturday, Jan. 25 at Providence in a nationally-televised matchup on FOX Sports 1.