Bluiett leads No. 17 Xavier over Morehead State 101-49
CINCINNATI (AP) — Trevon Bluiett missed a week of practice with a sore right shoulder. It didn’t show in his season debut.
The senior guard scored 21 of his 25 points during Xavier’s blistering first half on Friday night, and the 17th-ranked Musketeers dominated from the opening tip-off for a 101-49 victory over Morehead State.
The Musketeers (1-0) return the core of their Elite Eight team and put their depth on display. They scored 62 points in the first half, their most since they had 68 during the opening half of a 117-75 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson in the 2012 opener.
Their best player led the way, looking like nothing was wrong at all. After the game, Bluiett had a bag of ice on his right shoulder as he munched popcorn from a bag with his left hand.
“I was surprised that Tre shot as well as he did because he hasn’t practiced a whole lot,” coach Chris Mack said. “He’s only been going (full speed) the past couple of days. That’s not easy to do. He stepped right in and looked like he never left. He’s a phenomenal player.”
Xavier’s senior guard tandem of Bluiett and J.P. Macura had their way. Macura scored Xavier’s first eight points on a layup, a 3-pointer and a three-point play, sparking an 18-1 run. He finished with 18 points.
The Musketeers pulled out to a 34-5 lead and led 62-24 at halftime, shooting 76 percent from the field. They shot 68 percent overall.
Jordan Walker scored 13 points for Morehead State (0-1), which returns only four players from last season, when Preston Spradlin took over as interim coach. Spradlin got the full-time job after the Eagles went 12-9 the rest of the way.
He’s got a whole new team — and a lot of growing pains — this time around.
“It’s getting 10 new guys to understand at this level, there are no off-days, there are no off-possessions, you must execute, you must play hard, you must do everything perfectly at all times,” Spradlin said. “A very good Xavier team showed us what happens when you don’t do that.”
Morehead State: The Eagles hoped to avoid a slow start on the road, but quickly came apart against Xavier’s pesky man-to-man defense. They missed 12 of their first 13 shots and had five turnovers while Xavier raced ahead by 28 points.
Xavier: Bluiett returned for his senior season after trying out for the NBA. Despite being limited in practice by the sore shoulder, he found his touch right away, making seven of his nine shots in the first half, including five of six from beyond the arc.
It was Xavier’s largest margin of victory since a 118-61 win over Louisiana Monroe on Nov. 24, 1997 at Cincinnati Gardens.
Xavier sophomore forward Tyrique Jones had 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds, an indication of the progress he’s made.
“The game definitely slowed down from my freshman year to now,” Jones said. “I see things a whole lot more. Definitely a change of speed for me.”
PASS IT AROUND
One of the most pleasing statistics for Xavier: 26 assists on 36 baskets.
“We’re creating shots for one another,” Mack said. “That’s a sign of a mature team.”
Spradlin’s wife, Alice, was due to deliver their second child on Friday. Spradlin had someone checking his phone during the game, and a car was waiting so he could drive home as soon as the game ended if she had gone into labor.
Morehead State plays at Lipscomb on Sunday, followed by its home opener against Marshall on Thursday.
Xavier hosts Rider on Monday before playing at Wisconsin on Thursday as part of the annual Big East-Big Ten challenge.
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