CINCINNATI (AP) -- Two losses that cost Xavier a lot of sleep and
its precious national ranking put the Musketeers in a nasty mood.
It showed in their attitude.
Xavier (8-3) used its balance to hold the lead for most of the
game, then pulled away with a closing 17-5 run that featured points
from six players and showed some grit -- the thing most lacking in
those two defeats.
"It starts with the older guys," said Doellman, a senior
forward. "We wanted to come out and let the other team know it's
going to be a physical game. Instead of taking a step back, we
wanted to move forward tonight."
The victory ended a tumultuous eight days for Xavier. The
Musketeers had moved into the Top 25 for the first time in more
than three years, only to lose at Creighton and then at crosstown
rival Cincinnati in a five-day span.
"I don't think any of us slept well after that game," guard
Stanley Burrell said, referring to the 10-point loss at Cincinnati
on Wednesday. "I know I didn't. We wanted to come out and bounce
It was the first double-digit loss this season for Arizona State
(4-4), a young team that uses four freshmen in its lineup rotation.
Senior forward Serge Angounou matched his career high with 23
points, keeping the Sun Devils within striking distance until
Xavier pulled away in the closing minutes. Freshman guard Christian
Polk, the Sun Devils' leading scorer with 17.7 points per game, was
held to a season-low four points on 1-of-10 shooting.
Doellman and Burrell had particularly disappointing performances
during the loss to Cincinnati. Doellman was in foul trouble much of
that game and finished with only six points. Burrell failed to
score, going 0-for-10 from the field.
"They're an outstanding shooting team," Arizona State coach
Herb Sendek said. "They present some incredible matchup
challenges. Over the course of a season, you're going to have some
off nights, but time has proven they can shoot the basketball."
Both slumping shooters came out looking to break out.
Doellman made Xavier's first basket, a baseline jumper that
started his comeback performance. Burrell forced his first shot -- a
driving layup attempt from behind the backboard -- before making a
pull-up jumper that ended his scoreless rut.
"It was huge," Burrell said. "Lately, it's been rough. I've
struggled in the game and seen how everybody's saying how badly
I've been playing. I don't want to say it was a breakout game --
nothing like that. But it's nice to see a few go down."
Burrell finished with 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting, going
1-of-7 from behind the arc.
The Musketeers acknowledged that they didn't have enough
intensity during those two road losses in the last eight days.
"It's a long college basketball season," coach Sean Miller
said. "Don't judge us on 10 games. In the last week, we played two
teams in unbelievable atmospheres. We didn't respond well, but we
learned from it."
Xavier led by a small margin for most of the first half. Burrell
scored off a drive to the basket and had a steal and layup during a
15-3 run that closed the first half and gave Xavier a 38-26 lead,
its biggest to that point.
Angounou scored 14 points in the first half, matching his
previous season high. His 3-pointer completed a 9-2 run that opened
the second half and cut it to 40-35.
Cage blunted the comeback by scoring Xavier's next seven points,
including a three-point play off a putback. Doellman's two free
throws rebuilt the lead to 12 points, 59-47, midway through the
Polk's 3-pointer -- his first basket after five misses -- started
Arizona State's final surge. His free throw cut it to 61-56 with
6:06 to go.
Reserve point guard Johnny Wolf ended that comeback by hitting a
3-pointer over Arizona State's zone defense, getting the rebound
off Polk's missed shot and passing ahead to Derrick Brown for a
Arizona State's top four players are either freshmen or in their
second season. The inexperience has hurt them in close games --
their three previous losses were by four points or fewer. The Sun
Devils were coming off a 66-63 loss at Minnesota.