CINCINNATI (AP) -- Delonte West was as perfect as his team.
The left-handed guard made every one of his shots -- 12 from the
field, six from the line -- for a career-high 33 points Saturday,
and No. 6 St. Joseph's extended the best start in school history
with an 81-73 victory over Xavier.
Jameer Nelson added 28 points in a two-guard attack that rallied
the Hawks (15-0, 5-0 Atlantic 10) from their first nine-point
deficit of the season and left the Musketeers gasping for air and
grasping for adjectives.
"He was unbelievable," said guard Lionel Chalmers, who led
Xavier with 23 points. "If you take 12 layups, you might miss one.
He had it going. Twelve-for-12 -- I don't think he'll do that
He did it when the unbeaten Hawks needed it most.
Xavier (9-6, 1-2) stunned the conference's stingiest defense by
hitting 3-pointers and pulling ahead 41-35, the Hawks' biggest
halftime deficit of the season.
West and Nelson drew groans and "aahs" of amazement from the
capacity crowd as they helped the Hawks catch up and pull away with
their uncanny accuracy.
West set school and conference records by taking 12 shots
without a miss. Nelson, a national player of the year contender,
went 11-of-18 from the field as the tandem accounted for all but 20
of the Hawks' points.
"You saw the best player in America and you saw the best
backcourt in America," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said.
"They are what they are."
The Musketeers repeatedly switched up their man-to-man defense
but never found a way to stop the only two players who could hurt
The Hawks hadn't won on Xavier's court since Feb. 17, 1973,
losing on their last six trips. They became only the fourth
visiting team to win at the Cintas Center in its four seasons,
joining Massachusetts, Cincinnati and Richmond.
The last time St. Joseph's came to town, West was 3-of-5 for six
points as the Musketeers won 84-77.
"Last night in the hotel, I remembered how I had a big turnover
at the end of that game," West said. "I had some bad memories as
a freshman coming here.
"I had it going today and my teammates did a good job of
It wasn't difficult. Xavier knew that either West or Nelson was
going to take the shot, but still couldn't stop them.
"I've never seen a show like those two put on, from the
standpoint of where and when they hit them," Xavier coach Thad
Matta said. "One time when the shot clock was winding down, West
penetrated and we grabbed his arm and he still made it. I don't
know what else you can do.
"They were responsible for everything that happened today.
That's what great players do."
There were seven ties and seven lead changes. Xavier led by as
many as nine in the first half, when it went 6-of-7 on 3-point
West made four free throws in a 10-point spurt that helped St.
Joseph's pull away in the closing minutes, keeping its record as
perfect as West's shooting line.
"I'd almost like to keep on playing just to see when he was
going to miss," Matta said.
St. Joseph's is off to the second-best start in Atlantic 10
history, topped only by Massachusetts' 26-0 run in 1995-96. The
longest overall winning streak in school history is 16 games, in
Romain Sato scored 14 points and provided Xavier's best moment
of the game -- a turnaround jumper from the baseline that gave the
Musketeers a 41-35 halftime lead.
Xavier players sprinted off the floor and jubilantly slapped
hands with students as they headed for the locker room. It was only
the second time all season that St. Joseph's trailed at the break.
Nelson's crimson jersey was soaked through as he rallied the
Hawks early in the second half. He drove and passed to Dwayne Jones
for an uncontested dunk, then had a steal and layup that tied it at
West hushed the crowd by driving the baseline for a left-handed
layup, had a putback off one of Nelson's rare misses, and made a
three-point play that put the Hawks ahead 65-60 with 7:40 left. At
that point, Nelson and West each had 27 points and were a combined
22-of-27 from the field.
Sato's fastbreak layup put Xavier ahead one last time, 71-70
with 3:08 left, but Pat Carroll's 3-pointer started the clinching