CINCINNATI (AP) J.P. Macura emerged from his shooting slump by scoring 18 points, and RaShid Gaston helped No. 13 Xavier get the edge up front against the nation’s top rebounding team on Saturday, leading the Musketeers to a 77-69 victory over Utah.
The Musketeers (8-2) were coming off back-to-back road losses that featured long scoring droughts. Xavier’s balanced offense built a 15-point lead in the first half, and the Musketeers stayed ahead the rest of the way.
Gaston had 11 points and 14 rebounds, helping Xavier to a 33-28 edge on the boards. The Utes (6-2) came in averaging 47.7 rebounds per game. Gaston had nine points and 10 rebounds – one less than Utah’s total – in the first half.
Macura was 5 of 7 from beyond the arc after going only 2 of 16 in his last three games. Trevon Bluiett also scored 18 points.
Freshman Devon Daniels had a career-high 19 points for the Utes, whose two losses have been against ranked Big East teams. They also lost to Butler.
Utah: The Utes’ top two scorers – Kyle Kuzma and Tyler Rawson – were a combined 2 of 10 for five points in the first half as Xavier took control.
Xavier: The Musketeers went through long second-half scoring droughts during their losses. Utah opened the second half with an 11-4 spurt but couldn’t get any closer.
The Musketeers figure to slip in the Top 25 based upon their 68-66 loss at Colorado on Wednesday, but limited the damage with their win on Saturday.
Utah hosts Prairie View A&M next Saturday, and then closes nonconference play the following week in Hawaii as part of the Diamond Head Classic.
Xavier plays the first of four straight home games leading into Big East play, hosting Wake Forest next Saturday in the Skip Prosser Classic.
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