Bluiett leads unbeaten Xavier over ND State
CINCINNATI -- Xavier junior guard Trevon Bluiett lost around 20 pounds during the offseason to get quicker and more athletic to the rim. The result is Bluiett becoming a more complete player, something that was on display Tuesday night.
Bluiett scored 23 points with five rebounds and seven assists and Sean O‘Mara added 12 points, lifting the seventh-ranked Musketeers to an 85-55 victory over North Dakota State at Cintas Center.
“I want to be an all-around player,” said Bluiett, who participated in the pre-NBA Draft process last summer but chose to return to Xavier. “I’ll do whatever they ask me to do every game.”
There was no letdown for the Musketeers (7-0), who next play at No. 9 Baylor on Saturday after rolling to their 26th consecutive non-conference win at home.
“The schedule doesn’t get any easier,” said Xavier head coach Chris Mack.
Redshirt freshman forward Deng Geu led North Dakota State (5-3) with 18 points but the Bison couldn’t keep pace with a Big East Conference opponent on the road.
“I thought we competed until the end,” said North Dakota State coach David Richman. “They (Xavier) have so many talented parts, but they play so well as a team. We can’t simulate this type of athleticism in practice.”
Bison guard A.J. Jacobson, who came in shooting 78 percent from 3-point range, was held scoreless without a 3-point attempt.
“We knew that he loved to shoot,” Bluiett said. “We wanted to put him on the floor to see what he could do that way.”
North Dakota State went scoreless until Carlin Dupree’s jumper with 15:40 left in the first half.
Xavier started fast for the second straight game. After jumping out to a 30-10 lead in Saturday’s win over Northern Iowa, the Musketeers raced to a 30-11 advantage over the Bison behind nine points from Bluiett.
“Good focus from our group,” Mack said. “I thought we carried over what we did on Saturday. We were extremely sharp.”
Xavier made the most of its size advantage with no North Dakota State starters taller than 6-foot-6, outrebounding the Bison 43-27 overall and 15-8 on the offensive end.
Bluiett’s layup off a pass from J.P. Macura put the Musketeers ahead 36-15. Bluiett had 15 points and six assists in the first half.
Macura scored 11 points and had three assists for the game.
Kaiser Gates, who missed the first five games after knee surgery, scored his first points of the season with a 3-pointer, putting Xavier ahead 39-18. Gates scored six points on a pair of 3-pointers.
Quentin Goodin’s steal and dunk made the score 43-22 at halftime.
Xavier dominated the first half despite Edmond Sumner going scoreless. Sumner hit two free throws for his first points with 17:58 left in the second half. Sumner finished with five points and seven assists.
“I don’t worry about Edmond scoring,” Mack said. “He played a great floor game.”
Plenty of other players stepped up. Goodin’s 3-pointer made the score 62-26 with 14 minutes left.
Malcom Bernard went 3-of-4 from 3-point range and scored 10 points as four Xavier players reached double figures.
It was a complete performance by Xavier, which had 23 assists and only seven turnovers.
“I loved the way we played on offense,” said Bernard. “We shared the ball. The offense flowed really well.”
NOTES: The Musketeers have won 21 consecutive non-conference regular season games. ... Xavier is among four unbeaten Big East Conference teams coming into Tuesday: Butler (7-0), Villanova (6-0), and Creighton (6-0) were among 22 undefeated teams nationally entering Tuesday’s action. ... North Dakota State hasn’t defeated a ranked opponent in the regular season since beating 8th-ranked Marquette on Dec. 2. 2006. The Bison are 3-11 all-time vs. ranked teams. ... It was the first meeting between the two teams.