CINCINNATI (AP) — Despite getting another high-scoring win, Xavier coach Chris Mack found some things he didn’t like.
Trevon Bluiett had 26 points and nine rebounds to lead the 15th-ranked Musketeers to a 101-75 victory over Rider on Monday night in the teams’ first-ever meeting.
Tyrique Jones scored 19 points, J.P. Macura had 14, Paul Scruggs added 13 and Kaiser Gates 12 as Xavier (2-0), topped 100 points for the second straight game and won its 32nd consecutive nonconference game at home.
Although Rider lacked Xavier’s size, its players congested the lane and often forced outside shots that the Musketeers initially struggled to make. Xavier missed nine of its first 12 perimeter attempts, and also had eight of its 11 turnovers before halftime.
“Like a lot of teams this early in the year, we just have to shore up some things we have to improve in,” Mack said. “We had more turnovers in the first half. I think that was more my coaching than our players’ decisions, although they can always make better ones.”
Jordan Allen and Stevie Jordan had 14 points each for Rider (1-1), which trailed by 19 in the first half before pulling within five early in the second.
Gates, who capitalized on size mismatches for dunks, hit a 3-pointer to start a 17-2 run that pulled Xavier out of danger with 13:28 to play. Bluiett contributed eight points in the stretch.
“When we start seeing shots falling, it kind of just gives us this confidence boost as a whole,” Gates said. “If Trevon hits a shot, it gives me confidence. If I hit a shot, it gives J.P. confidence. It’s like a domino effect.”
The Musketeers held Rider scoreless for long spurts and proved overwhelming offensively. Xavier, which scored 57 points in the second half, increased its lead to 34 with less than four minutes left.
Rider finished with 19 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points.
“Our rebounding right now is not where it needs to be,” Mack said. “And I know that it’s a little bit a function of long shots equal long rebounds and our guards have got to help us rebounds. And right now they’re not doing that. So we have to get better.”
Rider coach Kevin Baggett shared the sentiment. He thought the Broncs rushed their shots in the second half.
“There are no moral victories but I like the way we competed,” he said. “We did some good things but we need to keep getting better.”
Both teams play in the Las Vegas Invitational Nov. 23 and 24, but will not face each other at Orleans Arena. This was a non-bracketed game scheduled through the tournament.
Former Musketeer Edmond Sumner returned to Cintas Center for the first time since being taken in the 2017 NBA draft. Sumner is with the Indiana Pacers, rehabbing the knee he injured last year at Xavier.
Xavier freshman Naji Marshall played 17 minutes throughout but seemed to be moving slowly in the second half. Mack said his back has “been tightening up a bit.”
“It’s something he has been dealing with for the last week or so. He played through it against Morehead (State.) I don’t know if he slept on it wrong or what. But we’ve got to try to get him a little bit more limber and get a little bit more loose. I don’t think he’ll miss any time in games,” Mack said.
Xavier: The Musketeers topped the century mark for the second straight game, after beating Moorhead State 101-49 on Friday night. The Musketeers nonconference home win streak dates back to a loss to Wofford on Dec. 22, 2012.
Rider: Allen’s team-high 21 points Friday against Hampton were the most in a freshman Rider debut in at least 22 years.
Xavier: The Musketeers play at Wisconsin on Thursday in the Gavitt Tipoff Games. It’s the teams’ first meeting since the 2016 NCAA tournament, a second-round game the Badgers won on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Rider: The Broncs host Hartford on Wednesday and travel to George Washington for a Nov. 20 non-bracketed game in the Las Vegas Invitational.
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