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Xavier 84, DePaul 74

The SportsXchange

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Guard Semaj Christon scored 27 points and forward Justin Martin added 18 to lead Xavier to an 84-74 Big East victory over DePaul on Monday afternoon.

The victory was the second straight and 10th in 11 games for the Musketeers (15-4, 5-1).

Forward Cleveland Melvin scored 25 points while guard Billy Garrett Jr. added 18 as the Blue Demons (10-10, 2-5) dropped their second straight.

Forward Isaiah Philmore added 13 points for Xavier.

The Musketeers, who never trailed, sprinted to a quick 11-5 lead behind Christon's five points. The Blue Demons scrambled back and forced a brief 22-22 tie on forward Forrest Robinson's rebound tip-in with 8:18 left.

It was the game's lone deadlock as Xavier launched a 13-5 run over the next 2:46 to open a 35-24 advantage with 5:48 showing.

Xavier's lead never slipped below eight points and the visitors closed the half with an 11-1 run in the final 2:29 for a 50-32 advantage.

Christon had 19 first-half points as the Musketeers shot 67.9 percent (19-of-28) from the field. Melvin topped the Blue Demons with 12.

Despite the big deficit, an energized DePaul team emerged from the break. Utilizing a full-court press, the Blue Demons forced four turnovers and outscored the Musketeers 15-7 in the first 4:26 to turn to cut the deficit to 57-47.

Two Melvin free throws later cut the Xavier lead to seven at 61-54 with still nearly 12 minutes to play.

The Musketeers pushed the lead back to 13 points at 71-58 with 9:03 showing but the Blue Demons were not finished.

A 9-1 run over 2:56 gave Xavier an 81-66 lead with just under three minutes to play, and it never slipped below 10 points the rest of the way.

NOTES: DePaul G Billy Garrett earned Big East rookie of the week honors after averaging 16 points and four assists in two games, including a career-high 21 points in a 77-75 win over St. John's. ... Garrett tops the league in free-throw percentage (96.2), C Tommy Hamilton is tops in 3-point field goal percentage (8-of-10, 80 percent) while F Cleveland Melvin is seventh in scoring with a 16.7 average and has scored in double figures 90 times in 108 career games. ... Xavier guard Dee Davis landed on the Big East honor roll after collecting 15 points and seven assists in an 80-67 win over Georgetown. ... Xavier G Semaj Christon is second in league scoring with a 22.8 point average. The Musketeers have a sprinkling of votes in two national polls this week, among four Big East teams with recognition. ... Xavier is at Providence while DePaul travels to Seton Hall on Saturday.

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