Bulldogs come out cold against Musketeers

CINCINNATI — Tu Holloway overcame a sore shooting hand and scored 12 points Friday night, leading a balanced offense that carried No. 12 Xavier to a 70-56 victory over poor-shooting Georgia.

Holloway, who hurt his right hand during practice, missed his only shot in the first half. He made all eight of his free throws and had four assists, helping Xavier (4-0) extend its success against the Southeastern Conference.

Georgia (3-2) missed its first 11 shots, fell behind 10-0 and never recovered, trailing by 36 points midway through the second half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 14 for the Bulldogs, who shot 32 percent from the field and trailed by 36 points midway through the second half.

Xavier has won eight of its last nine games against SEC teams since 2008, beating Georgia three times during that span. The Musketeers also have wins over Florida, Auburn and Louisiana State.

Their only SEC defeat was at home to Florida last season, the Musketeers’ only loss in their last 43 games at the Cintas Center.

Xavier won in Athens 65-57 last season, when Holloway failed to score in the first half, then had 18 to help the Musketeers pull away. The senior point guard had four points in the first half on Friday, all on free throws.

Holloway is trying to get into a rhythm after a tough opening stretch. He had to sit out the opener against Morgan State because he played too many summer games, a violation of NCAA rules. Holloway returned and had 24 points against IPFW, but was physically subpar in a 66-60 win over Miami of Ohio a week ago.

Coach Chris Mack said Holloway had been light-headed in the days leading up to the Miami game, in which he scored only nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. Now, he’s also contending with the sore hand.

The Bulldogs were coming off 61-57 win over Notre Dame on Tuesday in the CBE Classic consolation game. They lost to No. 20 California a day earlier.

The Musketeers showed off their newcomers while taking control. At one juncture during the 10-0 run, Mack had freshman point guard Dee Davis, freshman forward Dez Wells, freshman forward Justin Martin, junior Travis Taylor and junior guard Mark Lyons on the floor. Taylor finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Xavier pushed the lead to 14-3 with Georgia going 1 for 16 from the field with six turnovers in the first 10 minutes. Wells had the most crowd-pleasing play during the run, taking the ball around his back to avoid a steal while driving for a layup.

A technical foul on Lyons — he got tangled up with a Georgia player — contributed to an eight-point run that cut the lead to 14-11. The comeback faded fast. Kenny Frease’s block set up a fastbreak layup by Lyons that pushed it to 20-11. It was 28-19 at the half, with seven Xavier players scoring, none more than six points. The Bulldogs were 6 of 28 from the field with 11 turnovers.

Holloway got involved during a 12-point run that opened the second half and pushed the lead to 40-19. He hit a pair of free throws, a layup and a fadeaway jumper. Georgia missed five shots and had two turnovers during the decisive spurt.

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