Tyrique Jones powered his way to 14 points and 18 rebounds to guide Xavier to a 64-58 Big East victory over visiting Providence on Saturday night at Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
Xavier (16-8, 5-6 Big East) needed every bit of Jones’ 15th double-double of the season as the Musketeers and Friars were so well-matched, neither team led by more than six points all night.
Paul Scruggs scored 13 points while Zach Freemantle added 11 and Kyky Tandy contributed 10 as Xavier extended its winning streak to three games.
Providence (13-11, 6-5) saw its two-game run come to a close despite 16 points and seven rebounds from Nate Watson. Alpha Diallo scored 14 points while David Duke added 12.
The lead changed hands 11 times between two desperate teams fighting to rally their way into NCAA Tournament consideration.
Xavier built the first half’s biggest margin when Scruggs cashed a 3-pointer to make it 16-10 with 11:33 left, but Providence answered with 10 straight in less than two minutes to take its biggest lead of the half. Duke triggered the spree with a pair of 3-pointers, then Diallo sank a jumper and Duke fed Kalif Young for a layup.
After Providence led 30-28 at halftime, the second half delivered more back-and-forth basketball. Xavier scored six straight points — capped by Freemantle’s free throw — to take a 42-38 lead with 12:35 to go, but Providence’s Luwane Pipkins wrapped a pair of 3-pointers around a ferocious Watson slam to give the Friars a 46-44 edge with 10:45 left.
The lead changed hands three more times before Jones came to the fore. He powered his way for a layup, watched Jason Carter throw down a two-handed dunk and then followed with a 5-foot flip to give Xavier a 58-52 bulge with 5:00 on the clock.
Xavier carried a 61-58 lead into the final minute. Pipkins’ potential game-tying 25-footer with 33 seconds rimmed out, which forced the Friars to foul Scruggs. He sank both free throws, then Pipkins missed another long 3-point attempt. Jones soared for his 18th rebound and drew Watson’s fifth foul. After Jones split a pair of free throws, Pipkins rimmed another tightly contested long-ball try.
—Field Level Media