GAME NOTES: The Xavier Musketeers have won two games in a row, and they'll try for a third as they clash with the Seton Hall Pirates in a Big East Conference showdown at the Prudential Center.
Xavier has won two straight games and three of its last four altogether. The Musketeers are coming off a huge 75-69 victory over then-No. 9 ranked Creighton in conference play. With two games left to play on the regular season schedule and at 10-4 in the conference standings, Xavier is out of the running for the top spot in the Big East.
Seton Hall has dropped three consecutive games, and six of the team's last seven overall. The Pirates are coming off a 74-69 loss to Providence on Friday, which set the team back to 5-11 in the conference standings.
Seton Hall leads the all-time series with Xavier, 5-3. The two programs met for just the second time in the last 35 years back on Feb. 1, which resulted in a 68-60 Seton Hall win. The loss was the only one this season for Xavier at home in the Cintas Center.
Xavier won against a Top 10 opponent for the first time since the 2007-08 season, as the team defeated Creighton on Saturday. The Musketeers allowed Doug McDermott to score 27 points, but he was the only Bluejay to net a scoring total in double figures. Semaj Christon led Xavier with 21 points on 8-of-18 shooting. Justin Martin chipped in a double-double for the Musketeers with 19 points and 16 rebounds, and Dee Davis netted 15 points with a team- high five assists in the upset victory. Xavier shot an even 50 percent from the floor and went 56.3 percent from 3-point range.
Christon improved his already team-leading scoring total with the 21-point effort. The guard now leads the team with a 16.6 ppg average on 49.3 percent shooting from the floor. He rounds out his stats well this season with 118 assist (second behind Davis' 137), a team-high 40 steals and nets a 45.7 percent clip from beyond the arc. Martin is second on the team in scoring with 11.5 ppg, followed by Matt Stainbrook, who nets 10.9 ppg with a team-leading 7.9 rpg average.
Seton Hall needed to take on Providence without its leading scorer, Fuquan Edwin, who sat out due to a thumb injury. The Pirates controlled much of the first half, but it was Providence that went into the locker room with a 28-26 lead at the intermission. The Friars lengthened their lead by three points in the second half for the five-point win. Sterling Gibbs led all Pirates scorers with 20 points, while Eugene Teague tallied a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Jaren Sina chipped in 11 points, and Patrik Auda added 10. Seton Hall shot 40 percent from the floor in the loss.
Edwin leads the team with a 15.1 ppg average on 45.8 percent shooting from the floor. His scratch on Friday against Providence could have been the difference maker in the decision. He is questionable for this contest. Gibbs is second in scoring at 14.1 ppg with a team-leading 114 assists. Brian Oliver chips in 10.8 ppg this season, and Teague adds 10.5 ppg with a team-leading 7.7 rpg average. Brandon Mobley's 29 blocked shots is a team best, and Edwin's 70 steals is by far a Pirates high.
Xavier will be entering this contest with some momentum left over from the Creighton win, but also with revenge on the players' minds after Seton Hall won the matchup in Cincinnati earlier this season. Expect an offensive showcase, with the Musketeers trotting out a bit more firepower.
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