Musketeers Hold Off Kent State 62-55

Erik Stenger pulls in three offensive rebounds and a total five boards in the Xavier win.

Erik Stenger pulls in three offensive rebounds and a total five boards in the Xavier win.

Dec. 9, 2012

Final Box

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CINCINNATI - The Xavier Musketeers bounce back with a 62-55 victory over the Kent State Golden Flashes Sunday afternoon at Cintas Center. Semaj Christon led the Musketeers with 18 points from 6-of-13 shooting from the field.

Xavier quickly responds from the loss to Vanderbilt and improves its record to 7-2 while Kent State even ups its record at 5-5. This was the Musketeers seventh consecutive win over Kent State, and now holds a 13-4 edge in the all-time series record. Xavier has won ten of its last 11 games against teams from the Mid-American Conference, including three against the Golden Flashes.

Christon has scored in double figures in all but one game he's played this season and has led the team in scoring in five of the last six games. The freshman pulled in two rebounds and dished out an assist along with getting to the free-throw line a career-high 12 times, making six of his attempts.

Dee Davis orchestrated the court with four of the team's 11 assists along with 10 points and only two turnovers. Davis knocked down a pair of free-throws late in the game to lock up the win for the Musketeers.

Erik Stenger corralled in a career-high five rebounds, and swatted a career-high two shots. The Cincinnati native finished the game with six points, and shot a perfect 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. Travis Taylor ended with eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.

The Musketeers held the Golden Flashes to 32.3 percent (21-of-65) shooting from the field. This marked the lowest opponent field goal percentage allowed this season for the Musketeers. Xavier is now 4-1 for the season when trailing at halftime and 6-1 when holding the opponent to less than 50 percent from the field.   

Xavier gained its first lead of the game with 16:55 left in the second half after Christon sank a floater in the paint to give the Musketeers a 23-22 lead.

Brad Redford made two consecutive threes from the left wing to extend the Musketeers lead to 33-29 with 12:25 left in the second half. Redford finished with 14 points off of 4-of-6 shooting from the field and was nearly perfect from long range, shooting 4-of-5. This was the senior's highest point total this season since the home opener against Farleigh Dickinson when he netted 19 points.

Midway through the second half Xavier had an eight point advantage over Kent State, leading 45-33. The Musketeers took the lead with a 12-0 run lasting 2:32 which included threes by Davis and Redford.

With 3:30 remaining in the second half Xavier was holding onto a 51-44 lead. However, this was as close as the Golden Flashes could get to the Musketeers.  Free-throws by Davis and Christon sealed the victory for the home crowd.

The first half ended with the Musketeer down 20-18 to the Golden Flashes. This was the lowest first half total Xavier had registered all season. Taylor tallied six points to lead Xavier along with four rebounds.

The Golden Flashes weren't threatened by the Cintas Center crowd at the start of the game as they began with a 9-0 run. Kent State's pesky defense forced the Musketeers to miss their first five field goals and kept them scoreless for over four minutes.

However a resilient Xavier team stormed back with a 7-0 run of its own. Four consecutive stops by the Musketeers left them down 9-7 with 12:55 left in the first half.

Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net in the first half as they both shot below 35 percent. The Golden Flashes fired 30.8 percent (8-of-26) from the field while the Musketeers shot 20.8 percent (5-of-24). This was the lowest first half shooting percentage for the Musketeers this season.

Although the offense had its struggles, the defense posted a season low in points against in the field half and opponent shooting percentage in the first half. The Musketeers also held a 21-17 edge in rebounding in the first half, including seven offensive rebounds.  

Melvin Tabb of Kent State recorded the game's only double-double with a game-high 20 points and 14 rebounds. Tabb shot 9-of-10 from the field and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe.

The Musketeers will return to action Wednesday, December 19 to face city rival Cincinnati in the Skyline Crosstown Classic. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm at U.S. Bank Arena. Stay tuned to GoXavier.com for the latest news and updates of men's basketball.