Tyrique Jones scored 19 points and grabbed 20 rebounds as host Xavier held on to top scrappy Evansville 91-85 on Saturday evening.
Jones took over late in the second half, converting a key three-point play and throwing down a pair of dunks to fuel the Musketeers’ closing kick.
Sophomore guard Paul Scruggs led all scorers with 24 points, and sophomore guard Quentin Goodin scored 14 points in his season debut for Xavier.
All five Evansville starters scored in double figures, led by senior guard Shea Feehan and junior guard K.J. Riley, who each scored 20 points.
Evansville stayed tight early in the first half. Marty Hill hit a 3-pointer to get the Purple Aces within one, at 18-17, with 11:45 left in the half.
Goodin ignited a 12-1 Xavier run one minute later, hitting 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to help the Musketeers build a double-digit lead. The Purple Aces fought back, with Noah Frederking hitting a 3-pointer in the final minute before halftime to cut the Xavier lead to 49-45 at intermission.
Goodin separated his left shoulder in practice a month before the season tipped off and did not play in the Musketeers’ opening win over IUPUI. He scored all of his 14 points in the first half.
Xavier is off to a 2-0 start under first-year coach Travis Steele, a longtime Musketeers assistance, who replaced Chris Mack after he took the Louisville job after last season.
The Musketeers take a step up in competition this week, when they host Wisconsin, before heading to Hawaii, where they’ll open the Maui Invitational against No. 11 Auburn.
The Purple Aces, who were picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Missouri Valley Conference, are 0-2. They lost their season-opener by 39 points to Illinois. They’ll look to regroup Thursday when Kentucky Wesleyan visits.
Xavier was picked to finish sixth in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll.
—Field Level Media