Strong Second Half Propels Xavier Over Rhode Island, 55-42

Travis Taylor grabbed a new career-high 17 rebounds in the win over Rhode Island.

Travis Taylor grabbed a new career-high 17 rebounds in the win over Rhode Island.

Feb. 20, 2013

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KINGSTON, R.I. - Freshman Semaj Christon and senior Travis Taylor had a big second halves and the Xavier men's basketball team played outstanding defense as it picked up a 55-42 victory on Wednesday night at the Ryan Center.

The Musketeers used a combination of Taylor's eighth double-double, which included a new career-high 17 rebounds and Christon's 21st double-figure scoring effort to improve 8-4 in the Atlantic 10 and 15-10 overall.

Taylor came through in a big way during the second half, grabbing 13 of his rebounds. It was the highest XU individual total since Kenny Frease's had 18 against Wofford in 2010. Taylor also scored 10 points in the second half to compliment Christon who posted a team-high 16 points, with 12 of them coming after the break.

Xavier also played lockdown defense throughout the entire game and allowed the Rams to score only nine in the final 15-plus minutes of action. The Rams' 42 points were the lowest scored against XU since the Musketeers held Delaware State to 33 points on Dec. 28, 2007. Rhode Island only posted a 24.1 shooting percentage (13-of-54), which was easily the lowest of the year for any XU opponent.

The second half got under way with the Musketeers trailing the Rams, 23-22. The clubs tied the score three times in the opening minutes before Xavier's defense stepped it up and Taylor and Christon went to work.

A 12-0 run, which included 10 points from the duo, gave Xavier its biggest advantage since the opening minutes of the game. Rhode Island was never able to mount any offensive threat down the stretch after cutting the lead to six.

Xavier also used the second half to grab a huge rebounding advantage (45-29) after the two teams were locked after 20 minutes. The Musketeers outscored the Rams 24-12 on points in the paint, most coming in the second half.

For the game Xavier shot 40 percent (18-of-45) and senior Brad Redford accounted for both of the Musketeers' looks from long-range. The Rams were led by Xavier Munford's 15 points. He scored only three points in the second half.

The Musketeers now turn their attention to No. 24 VCU which kicks off a four-game home stand at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Xavier will also host Saint Louis, Massachusetts and Memphis in that home swing.

Xavier got off to a quick start in the contest and built a 7-0 lead thanks to a defensive effort by Martin that included two blocks and a steal. Rhode Island responded, charging ahead. The two teams went back and forth throughout the rest of the half. In the first 20 minutes there were four ties and five lead changes.

Philmore and Christon shared the lead in points with four for the Musketeers, who had seven players score. Taylor corralled four rebounds in the frame and had three points. The Musketeers shot only 31.8 percent (7-of-22) in the period and Redford drained the only 3-pointer of the half.

Xavier trailed by as six points midway through the period but continued to keep the Rams in their sight with tough defense which forced six turnovers and forced the Rams to a 26.9 (7-of-26) shooting percentage from the floor in the half. Rhode Island was only 2-of-12 from long range and were led by Munford's 12 points in the first half.