Xavier rallies to beat Georgetown 80-67Xavier guard Brandon Randolph drives against Georgetown in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Xavier overcame a 17-point deficit in the final 15 minutes on Wednesday night, using its balance and a big closing run to beat Georgetown 80-67 and remain unbeaten at home.
The Musketeers (14-4, 4-1 Big East) held the Hoyas scoreless over the final 6 minutes and closed with a 16-point run that showed their depth and their tenacity at home. Xavier is 12-0 at home this season and 185-25 in 14 seasons at the Cintas Center.
The Hoyas (11-5, 3-2) matched their season high by hitting 10 3-pointers and building a 17-point lead with 14:58 to go. Once the Musketeers clamped down on the perimeter, the Hoyas came apart.
Semaj Christon started the comeback, but wound up on the bench with four fouls and Xavier down by two with 8:57 left. The rest of the roster finished it off.
Christon had 18 points, Dee Davis added 17, Isaiah Philmore had 14 and Justin Martin scored 10. Xavier went 15 of 26 from the field in the second half against one of the league's stingiest defenses.
Markel Starks led Georgetown with 19 points. The Hoyas missed their last eight shots and a pair of free throws, allowing Xavier to pull away.
The game matched two of the Big East's stingiest defenses, but the offenses set a quick up-and-down pace from the outset. Xavier hit seven of its first 10 shots while pulling ahead 14-11.
Starks hit a 3-pointer and a layup that started a 10-point run and gave the Hoyas their first lead 21-14. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera also found his touch, making three 3-pointers and a three-point play as Georgetown extended the lead to 36-25 with 3:12 left in the half.
Smith-Rivera has been on a scoring surge lately, getting 31, 19, 18 and 18 in his last four games.
A tactical change also played a role. The Hoyas went to a zone defense that finally slowed down the Musketeers. Xavier missed five of its six shots after the switch, allowing Georgetown to pull ahead by double-digits.
The Hoyas took a 42-29 lead into the break, Xavier's biggest halftime deficit of the season. Georgetown was 7 of 11 from beyond the arc, with Smith-Rivera and Starks scoring 12 each in the half.
Xavier opened the second half with a 7-0 run, pushing the pace and getting layups. The Hoyas then hit three more 3s and pushed the lead back to 53-36 with 14:58 to go. The Hoyas wouldn't hit another 3 the rest of the way, finishing 10 of 18 beyond the arc.
Xavier went to a full-court press and got back into it. Christon asserted himself, getting a pair of layups and a pull-up jumper during a 12-2 run.
Later, Christon's steal and dunk cut it to 61-56, but he picked up his fourth foul with 8:57 left and went to the bench. Xavier clamped down on Georgetown's perimeter shooting, and Davis' three-point play cut it to 65-64 with 6:37 to go.
Myles Davis' 3 gave Xavier its first lead since the opening minutes, and Matt Stainbrook had a layup and a pair of free throws that put the Musketeers up 72-67 with 3:25 left. Xavier's defense finished it off.
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjoekay