Bluiett has 22 points, No. 17 Xavier beats Providence 82-56
CINCINNATI (AP) — One of Xavier’s biggest weaknesses has been a tendency to ease up. There was none of that in the Musketeers’ Big East opener, which they turned into their most lopsided win yet.
Trevon Bluiett scored 22 points on Wednesday night, and No. 17 Xavier took control at the outset and pulled away to an 82-56 victory over Providence. The 26-point margin made it Xavier’s most lopsided win in four seasons of Big East play.
Xavier (11-2, 1-0) surged ahead by as many as 30 points, with Bluiett leading the way . He had nine rebounds to go with his eighth 20-point game of the season. Edmond Sumner added 13 points and seven rebounds.
“We came out with a lot of energy and just were locked in from the get-go,” said Bluiett, who was 8 of 14 from the field. “For our first game in the Big East, we handled ourselves pretty well.”
The Musketeers have shown a propensity to get sloppy and lose focus at times, allowing teams to make up ground. Coach Chris Mack has been trying to break his team of the habit.
“I thought for the first time all season long, our team put together as complete a game as we’ve played all year,” Mack said. “We’ve had a tendency, to use the analogy, to take the foot off the gas pedal. It’s been frustrating at times, and we certainly haven’t arrived.”
Isaiah Jackson had 17 points for the Friars (10-4, 0-1) in their most lopsided loss of the season overall. They were coming off a 79-67 loss at Boston College that had been their previous worst defeat.
“We have to fight from the beginning,” Jackson said. “We can’t afford to dig a hole like that on the road.”
Xavier took control with an early 16-2 run and pushed the lead to 25 points early in the second half, keeping up the defensive pressure. The Friars never made a run to tighten the game.
“I don’t know what happened to our sense of urgency,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “I don’t want to overreact to a bad game because it’s a long season, but at the same time I have a lot of question marks about our guys now.”
Rodney Bullock leads the Friars at 19.4 points per game, but Xavier’s tight man-to-man defense gave him few open shots. He missed his first 10 shots and finished with a season-low two points on 1-of-11 shooting.
Providence: The Friars have won with defense, holding eight teams under 60 points this season. Xavier hit the 60-point mark with 11:22 left and became the first team to score 80 on the Friars.
Xavier: The Musketeers opened Big East play without senior guard Myles Davis, who has been suspended all season while the courts handled a misdemeanor case. Davis had a triple-double in Xavier’s 85-74 win over the Friars on Feb. 17.
Xavier has leveled off at No. 17 after back-to-back road losses to Baylor and Colorado knocked them out of the Top 10, winning four straight.
Cooley on Providence’s defense: “You and me could have played against Providence tonight and looked like All-Stars. Seriously. We were bad tonight, really bad tonight.”
In his last four games, Bullock has gone 13 of 50 from the field and been held to single digits three times.
“He’s a target on the scouting report,” Cooley said. “There’s a lot of focus and energy on him.”
Providence plays at No. 13 Butler on Sunday, the last of the Friars’ three straight road games. Providence has won three straight and six of seven in their series against the Bulldogs.
Xavier plays at Georgetown on Saturday, ending a streak of four straight home games. The Musketeers have won four of the last five in their series with the Hoyas.
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