Both Xavier and Evansville came into tonight's age-old rivalry at 6-3 on the season. Both teams started the season with a 5-0 mark and then lost three straight, before snapping their losing streaks this weekend. Tonight's game in Cincinnati did not disappoint.
Evansville shot out to a 32-25 lead at the half, mostly in part to Xavier's 10 for 30 performance from the field and 1 for 8 performance from beyond the arc. Xavier came into tonight as the Big East's second best three point shooting team.
The Purple Aces would try to keep the Musketeers on the cold side and extended their lead to a game high 13 courtesy of a D.J. Balentine three pointer with 11:42 to play.
A Duane Gibson foul with 10:40 left would seem to wake the Musketeers up. The freshman point guard for Evansville picked up an early fourth foul and was relegated to the bench. Woes would compound for the Purple Aces when big man Egidijus Mockevicius would pick up his fourth personal with 10:08 to play.
A Dee Davis three pointer would finally give Xavier a 57-56 lead with 5:03 left. Evansville's Balentine would then tie the game back up at 58 and the score would remain that way for over three minutes until the 1:08 mark. Unfortunately, for the Purple Ace faithful, the tied sequence would end with two Matt Stainbrook free throws and fifth, disqualifying foul from Mockevicius.
Evansville would not go quietly though, as Balentine rushed down the court for another Balentine basket to tie the game once again. Justin Martin for Xavier would answer with a basket of his own and a Semaj Christon free throw would ice the game for the Musketeers.
As you might have guessed, Balentine was the leading scorer for Evansville tonight with 15 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. Mockevicius was the only other player in double-figures for the Purple Aces with 11 points and all five starters fell short of ten or more points. Christon finished with a game high 19 points for Xavier.
Evansville will look to rebound Saturday when they hit the road to play 2-7 Jackson State.
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