Xavier beats Temple 88-77 in A-10 rematch
Xavier (13-5, 5-0) won its 35th straight A-10 home game, moving one ahead of Temple (13-5, 3-2) for the league record. The Owls won 34 in a row from 1987-91.
Xavier’s two fast-paced guards led an offense that rolled up the most points this season against the conference’s stingiest defensive team. The Musketeers shot 52.5 percent against a defense that hadn’t allowed more than 78 points in a game.
The Musketeers led most of the way—Temple had a pair of one-point leads that lasted a total of 41 seconds. Scootie Randall led Temple with a career-high 28 points. The Owls stayed in it by making a season-high 11 3s.
The Musketeers wore throwback uniforms in honor of forward Brian Grant, whose jersey was retired at halftime. Grant graduated from Xavier in 1992, played a dozen years in the NBA and is coping with Parkinson’s disease.
Grant talked to the Musketeers in their locker room before the game, adding emotion to a game already loaded with drama. The two teams have ruled the conference lately. Xavier has won at least a share of the last four regular-season titles. Temple has won the last three A-10 tournaments.
They played once last season, with Temple winning at home 77-72. When they finished tied for A-10 wins, that head-to-head game became the tiebreaker that gave the Owls the top seed in the conference tournament.
Inspired by Grant’s talk, Xavier got the better of it early, pulling out to a 16-8 lead. Holloway got a rebound, drove the length of the court and made a finger-roll layup to complete the run.
Randall was the only Owl who could hit a shot at the outset. He scored Temple’s first 10 points and made five of his first six shots. His 3-pointer gave Temple its only lead of the half, 29-28, and left him with 17 points, one shy of his previous career high.
Temple is second-worst in the A-10 at shooting from behind the arc, making only 31 percent. The Owls stayed in it with an uncharacteristic flurry of 3s, making 8 of 14 in the first half, which ended with Xavier ahead 41-39.
Grant got choked up on the court at halftime when a banner with his No. 33 jersey was unveiled from a rafter next to those of Byron Larkin, Tyrone Hill and David West. Grant called it the greatest honor he’s received.
Xavier broke open a back-and-forth second half by going on a 10-0 run. Lyons and Dante Jackson had 3s during the run, which put the Musketeers up 61-51 with 10:53 left.
Randall led the Owls back again. He had two fastbreak baskets and a 3-pointer during an 11-1 spurt that tied it at 66. Khalif Wyatt’s 3 gave the Owls their only lead of the second half, 69-68, with 5:30 left.
Holloway made a left-hand scoop shot off a crossover dribble, and Jackson had a steal and layup that put Xavier back in control 75-69 with 3:59 to go.