Paul Scruggs scored 21 points and Xavier overcame a sluggish start and the absence of point guard Quentin Goodin to earn an 82-61 victory Wednesday over Ohio in Cincinnati.
Naji Marshall had 17 points for Xavier (6-3) and junior forward Tyrique Jones added 15 to help offset the missing production from Goodin, who was out because of illness. Goodin is the Musketeers’ second-leading scorer at 12.3 points per game and leads in assists (4.3).
Jason Carter scored 17 points for Ohio (5-3), which saw its three-game winning streak come to an end despite shooting above 50 percent for most of the game and finishing at 46 percent.
Xavier, which has committed as few as three turnovers in a game this season, had 15 against the Bearcats, but countered that by shooting 57.4 percent from the field while winning its fourth consecutive game. The Musketeers also had a 33-23 rebounding advantage.
Xavier appeared to be off and running with an 18-5 lead, but Ohio went on a 14-2 run in the first half and turned a 27-18 deficit into a 32-29 lead. Xavier was still able to take a 35-34 lead into halftime behind two baskets in the final minute by Marshall.
Without a playmaker to run the offense, Marshall did not take his first field goal attempt until 15 minutes into the game and did not make his first basket until there was less than a minute remaining in the opening half.
Xavier was finally able to shake Ohio with a 19-5 second-half run that started with 8:33 remaining when Scruggs made two free throws.
Jones left the game with 2:11 remaining and did not return after taking a knee to the back of his head as he fell backward on defense.
Despite the loss, Ohio still has a 20-15 lead in the all-time series. Xavier, the Big East Conference regular-season champion from a season ago, has now won 10 consecutive games against MAC schools and 18 of its last 19.
—Field Level Media