Xavier 76, Arizona St. 58
CINCINNATI (AP)—Justin Doellman scored 19 points and Justin Cage added 17 on Saturday, helping Xavier recover from back-to-back losses with a 76-58 victory over Arizona State.
Xavier (8-3) used its balance to hold the lead for most of the game, then pulled away with a closing 17-5 run that featured points from six players.
It was the first double-digit loss this season for Arizona State (4-4), a young team that uses four freshmen in its lineup rotation.
The victory ended a tumultuous eight days for Xavier. The Musketeers had moved into the Top 25 for the first time in more than three years, only to lose at Creighton and then at crosstown rival Cincinnati in a five-day span.
Senior forward Serge Angounou matched his career high with 23 points, keeping the Sun Devils within striking distance until Xavier pulled away in the closing minutes. Freshman guard Christian Polk, the Sun Devils’ leading scorer with 17.7 points per game, was held to a season-low four points on 1-of-10 shooting.
Doellman and shooting guard Stanley Burrell had particularly disappointing showings during the 10-point loss to Cincinnati. Doellman was in foul trouble much of that game and finished with only six points. Burrell failed to score, going 0-for-10 from the field.
Both came out looking to break out.
Doellman made Xavier’s first basket, a baseline jumper that started his comeback performance. Burrell forced his first shot—a driving layup attempt from behind the backboard—before making a pull-up jumper that ended his scoreless rut.
Burrell finished with 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting, going 1-of-7 from behind the arc.
Xavier led by a small margin for most of the first half. Burrell scored off a drive to the basket and had a steal and layup during a 15-3 run that closed the first half and gave Xavier a 38-26 lead, its biggest to that point.
Angounou scored 14 points in the first half, matching his previous season high. His 3-pointer completed a 9-2 run that opened the second half and cut it to 40-35.
Cage blunted the comeback by scoring Xavier’s next seven points, including a three-point play off a putback. Doellman’s two free throws rebuilt the lead to 12 points, 59-47, midway through the second half.
Polk’s 3-pointer—his first basket after five misses—started Arizona State’s final surge. His free throw cut it to 61-56 with 6:06 to go.
Reserve point guard Johnny Wolf ended that comeback by hitting a 3-pointer over Arizona State’s zone defense, getting the rebound off Polk’s missed shot and passing ahead to Derrick Brown for a fastbreak dunk.
Arizona State’s top four players are either freshmen or in their second season. The inexperience has hurt them in close games—their three previous losses were by four points or fewer. The Sun Devils were coming off a 66-63 loss at Minnesota.