CINCINNATI (AP) Trevon Bluiett spent a lot of time shooting 3-pointers the last few days, finding his touch. It was all the way back Tuesday night.
The sophomore forward scored a career-high 24 points – 19 in the first half – and No. 7 Xavier took advantage of open shots on the perimeter while pulling away to an 84-64 victory over DePaul.
Xavier (15-1, 3-1 Big East) led most of the way as Bluiett got going right away, making his first four shots from beyond the arc. He tied his career high with five 3-pointers on 11 attempts. The Musketeers made a season-high 12 3-pointers.
Bluiett had been in a shooting slump, going only 2 of 15 beyond the arc in his last three games.
“I’ve been spending time in the gym and waiting for that to come out,” Bluiett said. “You go through some tough droughts. You’ve got to stay persistent.”
Myles Davis had 14 points and seven assists for the Musketeers, who had four double-figure scorers. Freshman Kaiser Gates had nine of his career-high 11 points in the second half as Xavier pulled away, leading by as many as 26 points.
“That’s what kind of sets us apart,” Bluiett said. “We’ve got seven to nine guys who can go out there and easily get 20 points if they want to. What also sets us apart is that we play together.”
Myke Henry scored 16 points for DePaul (6-11, 0-5), which dropped its fifth straight game. The Blue Demons couldn’t handle all of Xavier’s options on offense.
“They’re so balanced in how they go about things,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “They have a half-dozen guys who can make a major impact and put their fingerprints on the game.”
Xavier forward Jalen Reynolds didn’t start a 74-66 win at St. John’s on Wednesday because coach Chris Mack was unhappy with his conduct during practice. He was back in the lineup on Tuesday and had six points and seven rebounds.
Point guard Edmond Sumner was in uniform and warmed up before the game, the first time he had done that since he fell hard on the court and suffered a concussion at Villanova on Dec. 31. He has missed three games, with Xavier showing its depth and versatility in his absence.
Bluiett made his first four 3-point attempts, including one when he came off a pick and did a catch-and-shoot. Rashaun Stimage fouled him on another attempt, and Bluiett made all three free throws as Xavier pulled ahead 18-8. The Musketeers made six of their first 10 shots from beyond the arc.
After DePaul cut it the lead to two points, Davis hit two 3s – one while falling backward – during a 10-point spurt that made it 28-16, Xavier’s biggest lead of the first half. The Musketeers led 41-31 at the break.
Xavier got so many open shots on the perimeter because the Blue Demons packed in their defense to take away the Musketeers’ front-line scoring. Reynolds and James Farr were a combined 1 for 7 in the first half.
J.P. Macura scored 11 points, including two three-point plays, as Xavier built the lead to 18 points early in the second half.
The Musketeers had a moment of silence before the game for former Butler player Andrew Smith, who died of cancer on Tuesday at age 25.
“He’s been on our team’s mind,” Mack said. “We’ve got guys who played against him and coaches who have coached against him and have the utmost respect. It’s a terrible reminder of how fragile things are. Our thoughts and prayers go to the Butler community, especially the Smith family.”
DePaul: The Blue Demons haven’t beaten a Top 10 team since a 64-57 win over No. 5 Kansas on Dec. 2, 2006.
Xavier: Davis made his first free throw and missed his second, ending his streak of consecutive free throws made at 24.
DePaul: Hosts Creighton on Sunday.
Xavier: Plays at Marquette on Saturday.
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