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No. 6 Xavier takes league opener, holds off Marquette 91-87

Marshall v Xavier

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 19: Tyrique Jones #0 and Trevon Bluiett #5 of the Xavier Musketeers react in the second half of a game against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Cintas Center on December 19, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Xavier won 81-77. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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Trevon Blueitt had 23 points, J.P. Macura scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half and No. 6 Xavier beat Marquette 91-87 on Wednesday night to survive a road test in its Big East opener.

Tyrique Jones added 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting before fouling out for Xavier (13-1, 1-0), which won its eighth straight game.

Andrew Rowsey led the Golden Eagles (9-4, 0-1) with 31 points but missed a 3 while open from a couple feet from behind the arc with 1:16 left with his team trailing 85-82.

Marquette’s Markus Howard also missed a couple of layups late, including an attempt high off the glass off an inbounds play. Kaiser Gates answered at the other end with a 3-pointer for a five-point lead with 1:29 left.

The Big East leader in foul shooting (79.8 percent), Xavier sealed the road victory by going 6 of 6 from the line over the final 28 seconds.

But the Musketeers were challenged by Marquette from the early going.

A back-and-forth first half ended with a 42-39 lead for Xavier, with Bluiett leading the way with 12 points. Playing in front of a friendly crowd and urged on by energetic coach Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette often outhustled Xavier in sometimes-chippy play in the paint.

The sharpshooting Howard started 0 for 4 from 3-point range, though the Golden Eagles got an energy boost from center Harry Froling, who had four rebounds in 7 minutes off the bench in the first half.

Howard finished with 13 points, shooting 6 of 19 from the field and 1 of 8 from 3-point territory.


Xavier: A tough nonconference schedule tested the Musketeers’ resolve in a tricky league opener. The savvy senior backcourt of Bluiett and Macura gives the team an experienced duo to tackle any challenge. Blueitt was just 1 of 8 from 3-point range but added eight assists and went 10 of 11 from the foul line.

Marquette: Playing in his third game since becoming eligible, the 6-foot-11 Froling has provided much-needed size and hustle down low. His presence allows 6-8 swingman Sam Hauser, who can be a tough matchup with his size and shooting ability, to not have to worry as much about the paint. Wojciechowski should be encouraged by the play of his bench, including 16 points from Jamal Cain. The freshman was 4 of 6 from the 3-point line, hitting open looks from the corner.


Xavier: Hosts DePaul on Saturday in first Big East home game.

Marquette: Hosts Georgetown on Saturday to wrap up four-game home stand.