CINCINNATI (AP)—Xavier point guard Drew Lavender played sparingly and moved hesitantly because of a sprained ankle.
No problem for the 10th-ranked Musketeers, who used the setback to show once again why they are one of the nation’s most difficult teams to stop no matter who is on the court.
Derrick Brown and C.J. Anderson had double-doubles Thursday night in a balanced offense that hardly missed its injured playmaker, and Xavier rolled to its ninth straight win, 75-48 over Duquesne.
The Musketeers (23-4, 11-1) solidified their hold on first place in the Atlantic 10 with one of their more impressive performances, given the injury to one of the nation’s top point guards. Shooting guard Stanley Burrell spent most of his time in Lavender’s spot and had a career-high 12 assists.
Afterward, he sat next to Brown and Anderson, a blue towel wrapped around his neck, and made it sound easy.
“When you’ve got guys like this that can finish and guys that can shoot on the wings like B.J. (Raymond), it should be no problem,” Burrell said. “With Drew going down, I had to step up and help at that point guard spot and give him a chance to get healthy.
“We’re a total team. When one guy goes down, somebody else has to step up.”
For the third straight game, Lavender was severely limited by a sprained left ankle that has robbed him of his ability to dash past defenders. Duquesne (16-9, 6-6) tried to take advantage by unleashing its full-court press without reservation.
It didn’t work as Xavier passed through the traps without much problem, turning the ball over only 12 times.
“We tried to press them pretty much all night,” Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said. “They just handled it very well. Our inside guys didn’t defend very well. They pretty much got what they wanted inside. They embarrassed us, no ifs, ands or buts.”
The Dukes knew by halftime that they weren’t going to get their biggest upset in 46 years. Raymond went 5-of-6 from the field for 13 points, making all three of his shots from behind the arc in the half.
His fadeaway 3-pointer with 1 second left gave Xavier a 45-26 lead, one that was never seriously threatened. Raymond didn’t score in the second half.
Brown finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Anderson had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“That’s our strength,” Brown said. “We’re a whole team.”
Lavender played only 14 minutes and had five points, with coach Sean Miller doing his best to get him some rest.
“Drew’s limited,” Miller said. “We’re trying to do what’s best for him. We broke their pressure almost without Drew.”
Reggie Jackson had 12 points for Duquesne, which hadn’t scored fewer than 59 in a game all season. The Dukes came into the game leading the conference in scoring at 84.1 points per game.
“We haven’t really been faced with getting smashed like this,” Everhart said.
Xavier moved into the Top 10 this week for the first time in five years, then won at Rhode Island on Monday, starting a stretch of three games in seven days. Lavender’s injury has limited him in the last three games, making matters more difficult.
Duquesne’s last win on the road over a Top 10 team came on March 5, 1962, a 73-72 victory over No. 6 Bradley.
They haven’t knocked off a ranked team since beating No. 16 Xavier 11 years ago. Already this season, they had two close-call losses to ranked teams—by four points against Pittsburgh and two points against Rhode Island.
This one was settled by halftime.
A rush-hour snowfall snarled traffic in the city and held down attendance at the 10,125-seat arena, which was less than half full for the opening tip. The small crowd had plenty to cheer.
Forward Josh Duncan has helped Xavier cope with Lavender’s injury by making 16 consecutive shots—half from behind the 3-point arc—over the last three games. He was off-target on his first four shots on Thursday and finished 3-of-7 for eight points.