CINCINNATI — No. 17 Xavier got outrebounded for the first time all season and wasted several chances to put the game away, allowing it to come down to a final free throw. Trevon Bluiett made it.
Bluiett scored 20 points, including three free throws in the final 19 seconds, and the Musketeers held on for a 69-65 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday night in their annual game dedicated to former coach Skip Prosser .
The Musketeers (9-2) led most of the second half but didn’t have the game in hand until Bluiett hit one of his two free throws with 2 seconds left. Wake Forest (8-3) missed a pair of 3-point shots that could have tied it before Bluiett got the rebound and was fouled.
“Something may be off,” said point guard Edmond Sumner, who had 17 points and six turnovers. “At times you can see we’re clicking, but it’s not through a whole half, it’s in spurts. We still have to figure out what’s going on.”
John Collins had his sixth consecutive double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Bryant Crawford scored 20 points for the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest missed all of its 12 shots from beyond the arc in the second half and finished 5 of 25 on 3-pointers.
“We’re still going to shoot it,” coach Danny Manning said. “We’re going to shoot it 12 times the next game. Normally we make our fair share.”
There were nine ties and 11 lead changes in a back-and-forth game, with the Musketeers holding a slim lead for most of the second half. Sumner had a bank shot high off the backboard, and J.P. Macura had a steal and layup that made it 66-61 with 1:29 left.
Sumner and Bluiett both missed the front end in the bonus before Bluiett finally closed it out from the line.
“Even when we’re not on top of our game, we can still close games out,” Bluiett said. “It’s a good feeling for us to know we’re capable of doing that. We don’t want to keep putting ourselves in those situations.”
The Demon Deacons became the first team to outrebound Xavier this season, getting a 38-37 edge that included 15 offensive rebounds.
Wake Forest has done much better at shooting the 3 this season, making 38.8 percent before Saturday’s game. They’ve been a team of extremes, tough, making 13 twice and five or less four times.
“We were getting good looks at the basket but the ball wasn’t falling,” Crawford said. “We should have gone inside more, found other ways to score.”
Xavier has won its last two games, including a 77-69 victory over Utah, to stabilize in the poll after dropping because of back-to-back road losses against Baylor and Colorado.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons have lost both of their games against ranked teams this season, including 96-77 to Villanova in the Charleston Classic. They’re 1-12 against ranked teams in last two seasons, including a win over No. 13 Indiana in the Maui Invitational. Their last win on the road over a ranked team was 82-69 at No. 24 North Carolina on Jan. 20, 2010.
Xavier: The Musketeers’ soft passes led to repeated turnovers that played into Wake Forest’s hands. Xavier had 10 turnovers in the first half and 15 overall.
“That was just us doing careless stuff, like me traveling two times,” Sumner said. “It wasn’t because of the pressure.”
Wake Forest returns home and finished non-conference play against LSU on Thursday. The Demon Deacons won in Baton Rouge 77-71 last season.
Xavier hosts Eastern Washington on Tuesday before opening Big East play by hosting Providence on Dec. 28.
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