CINCINNATI (AP)—Even though Xavier’s Tu Holloway likes trying to get his teammates involved, when the game’s on the line, he’s not shy about taking over.
Holloway scored 21 points, including three consecutive 3-pointers in the last two minutes, and No. 11 Xavier roared back from a 19-point second-half deficit to pull out a 66-63 win Saturday over the Boilermakers.
“You’ve watched me do that for two years,” said Holloway, who scored 17 points in the second half, 13 after Purdue took a 55-36 lead on Ryne Smith’s 3-pointer with 10:44 left in the game. “I try to play with my teammates and not be a ball hog, but with one minute to play, I’m going to take the shot.”
Holloway personally capped the Musketeers’ comeback with six straight points that gave Xavier a 61-60 lead with 1:06 left. It was Xavier’s first lead since 2-0 in the first two minutes.
After Purdue’s Robbie Hummel tied the game with a free throw with 55.8 seconds left, Holloway calmly sank his third straight 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to give the Musketeers a 64-61 lead and two free throws with 21.7 seconds left for the final margin, which prompted him to climb on the media table and celebrate with the fans.
Xavier coach Chris Mack has seen Holloway’s act, but it never ceases to amaze him.
“That’s as wild of a game …” Mack said, his voice trailing off before starting again. “I’m just startled with how it ended. We were fortunate to win. In the last four minutes of the game, Tu Holloway’s will to win has nothing to do with the coaching staff. We try to put him into position to make plays, but the plays he made are amazing.”
Mark Lyons added 14 points and Kenny Frease and Andre Walker each finished with 10 as the Musketeers (6-0) overcame their highest turnover total since the 2008-2009 season to remain undefeated.
Xavier (6-0) committed 22 turnovers but still pulled out its second consecutive comeback win. The Musketeers trailed by 10 points midway through the second before pulling out an 82-70 overtime win Monday at Vanderbilt.
Hummel has overcome two surgical procedures on his right knee, overcame bouts with leg cramps to score a team-high 17 points for the Boilermakers (7-2), who played their first game of the season on an opponent’s home court. The cramps kept Hummel on the bench in the last 22 seconds as Purdue scrambled to sink a game-tying 3-pointer. That was just part of Purdue’s problem, coach Matt Painter said. Purdue didn’t make a field goal in the last 6:26.
“When the snowball starts rolling in the wrong direction, everything goes wrong,” Painter said. “We wanted to get the ball out of Lyons’ and Holloway’s hands as much as possible. Two of (Holloway’s) 3-pointers were big-time shots, but I thought we did a good job. I think there were a lot of positives. It was unfortunate that we lost it, but Xavier won it.”
The Musketeers committed 18 turnovers in the first half, two more than their previous high this season, while falling behind by 16 points in the first half. Lyons, who went into the game leading Xavier with an average of 18.0 points per game and Holloway each scored four. Holloway took just two shots and didn’t sink his only field goal until a layup with 33 seconds left before halftime.
The points were the fewest for the Musketeers in a first half since they scored 20 in their 66-55 loss to Marquette in the second round of last season’s NCAA tournament.
Lewis Jackson scored 10 points and Hummel added seven, including a tip-in at the buzzer that gave Purdue a 33-22 halftime lead.
“We were as bad as we could be in the first half,” said Mack, enjoying the best start of his three seasons at his alma mater. “We were fortunate to be down by just 11. It felt like 47.”