A big start to the second half by Justin Martin helped lead Xavier to its first-ever BIG EAST Conference win on New Year's Eve.
Dec. 31, 2013
CINCINNATI- Xavier used a 43-point second half to defeat St. John's, 70-60, in the opening game of the BIG EAST Conference season and the program's first ever match-up in the league in front of a raucous packed house of 10,250 at Cintas Center. The victory improves the Musketeers' overall record to 11-3 (1-0 in the BIG EAST) and snapped The Red Storm's three- game winning streak, dropping St. John's to 9-4 overall (0-1 in the BIG EAST).
Junior Justin Martin led the second-half charge with 12 of his 15 points in the frame. Senior Isaiah Philmore finished one rebound shy of his second double-double on the year with 11 points and nine rebounds, and sophomore Semaj Christonrounded out the double-digit scorers for Xavier with 10 points, five rebounds and a game-high eight assists with no turnovers.
Xavier went on an early 13-0 run of its own to start the second half and took the lead, 40-29. Martin took over and scored nine of the first 13 points in the stanza.
The Red Storm never saw the lead after that run. St. John's came within four of Xavier with 6:14 left in the game thanks to a Rysheed Jordan layup, but the Musketeers weathered the storm to gain their first victory in BIG EAST play..
St. John's jumped out to an early 9-0 lead in the first half and held Xavier without a basket until Matt Stainbrook muscled in a layup at the 11:55 mark. The Musketeers fought their way back into the game tying it at 17-17 with an Philmore layup. Later in the half with the score tied 25-25, D'Angelo Harrison completed a four-point play with 1:20 left in the first after being fouled by Dee Davis and hitting the free throw to make the score 29-25. XU trailed by two going into halftime, 29-27.
Harrison led the way in scoring for St. John's with a game-high 21 points. JaKarr Sampson finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Jordan was the only other player to reach double digits with 17 points, a career-high for the freshman, and tied his career-high in rebounds with six.
Stainbrook, BIG EAST player of the week and third in the BIG EAST in rebounding, finished with nine points, a game-high 10 rebounds and helped the Musketeers win the rebounding battle, 45-38. Xavier's defense did not disappoint Tuesday afternoon. The Musketeers held the Red Storm to their lowest point total of the year, previous was 63.
Xavier finished 25-of-56 from the field (44.6%). St. John's shot poorly from the field, 21-of-68 (30.9%), its lowest shooting effort of the year, but shot an above average 7-of-14 from beyond the three point arc (50.0%).
Xavier will look forward to continue its success in 2014 at the Cintas Center when Butler comes into town January 4th at 2:00 PM. The game will be televised of Fox Sports Net. Visit GoXavier.com for the latest news and updates on men's basketball.