Tempers flare at finish as No. 16 Xavier routs Seton Hall
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Souley Boum and Colby Jones gave No. 16 Xavier a much-needed victory in a game that ended ugly.
Boum scored 23 points, Jones had 19 and the two combined on a decisive run early in the second half in leading the Musketeers to an 82-60 win over Seton Hall on Friday night.
With a few seconds remaining, players from both teams came together in front of the scorer’s table after Boum and Seton Hall freshman guard Jaquan Sanders started jawing. Coaches and teammates did their best to separate the two, but for a moment it appeared things would escalate.
Seton Hall coach Shaheen Holloway was unhappy about a 3-pointer Boum attempted with Xavier ahead 82-57 with 22 seconds to play. Holloway waved his arms and would not shake hands with Xavier coach Sean Miller after the game.
Boum and Sanders were given technical fouls. Seton Hall forward KC Ndefo, who had fouled out, was ejected for leaving the bench.
Boum said Pirates players were acting tough in the closing seconds and his team was not going to stand for it.
“Just two teams getting after it,” Boum said after Xavier (21-8, 13-5 Big East) won for the second time in five games. “Those (guys) act like they’re tough and all that. But I’m not going for that. This team is not going for that. We’re not going to let nobody punk us on or off the court.”
Miller said he didn’t know what happened at the end and he was just happy to get a win. He downplayed the Holloway brushoff.
“I don’t have problems with any coaches,” Miller said.
Holloway apologized for the way the game ended.
“That should never happen. As the head coach, I take full responsibility for that. My guys gotta do better, I gotta do better, it will never happen again,” Holloway said, adding his team got beat in all phases and no one played well enough to be interviewed.
Adam Kunkel added 13 points for the Musketeers, who played without second-leading scorer and top rebounder Zach Freemantle for the seventh straight game.
Freemantle is making progress and Miller hopes he will be ready for the Big East Tournament.
Dre Davis scored 13 points off the bench to lead Seton Hall (16-13, 9-9). Sanders equaled his career high with 11. The Pirates played without point guard Kadary Richmond, sidelined by a back injury.
After both teams struggled for the opening eight minutes, Xavier took the lead for good with a 24-7 spurt. Kunkel ignited the surge with a desperation 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and Boum added eight of his 13 first-half points and three assists.
Trailing 40-21 at halftime, Seton Hall threatened to make it a game in the opening minutes of the second half by starting with a 12-1 run to pull to 41-33 on Femi Odukale’s basket inside.
Boum hit a 3 to start the decisive Xavier spurt and Jones followed with a three-point play and two free throws in helping the Musketeers open a 53-33 lead. It only got worse for the Pirates after that.
“We had an answer,” Boum said. “We ain’t got time to give a team momentum like that. That first four minutes was 12-1. We can’t do that, especially on the path that we are on. But I’m glad we handled it. We bounced back, we took the punches and we did what we’re supposed to.”
Xavier: The Musketeers broke a three-way tie for second place in the Big East, moving a half-game ahead of Creighton and Providence. With two regular-season games remaining, they are 1 1/2 behind Marquette, which has three games left. Xavier has clearly done enough to make the NCAA Tournament, but the team needs Freemantle back. Seton Hall made its brief comeback when it got the ball inside.
Seton Hall: The sixth-place Pirates have lost four of five, putting their NCAA Tournament hopes in serious jeopardy.
Xavier: Plays at No. 20 Providence on Wednesday.
Seton Hall: Will host Villanova on Tuesday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25