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Hankins, Xavier dominate inside, beat Eastern Kentucky 95-77

December 16, 2018
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Xavier guard Quentin Goodin (3) drives the basket in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Eastern Kentucky, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Kareem Elgazzar/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP)

CINCINNATI (AP) — When the Musketeers weren’t throwing the ball away, they were slamming it down for another dunk.

Xavier got the best of a wide-open game Saturday night, overcoming a season-high 27 turnovers and nearly setting a school record for shooting percentage during a 95-77 victory over Eastern Kentucky.

The Musketeers enjoyed the frenetic pace.

“It was really fun to play without having to call very many plays,” point guard Quentin Goodin said. “It’s attack and score.”

Goodin and Naji Marshall had double-doubles, and Zach Hankins scored 11 straight points as Xavier (7-4) took control in the first half by dominating inside.

Xavier couldn’t get the ball inside during a 62-47 loss at crosstown rival Cincinnati a week earlier, relying on long-range shots that didn’t fall. The Musketeers came out cold again against the Colonels (6-5), but found their inside game behind Hankins.

He led a 26-5 first-half run that put the Musketeers in control 47-33 at the break. Hankins finished with 14 points as Xavier got 56 points in the paint.

Xavier made 15 of its first 17 shots in the second half while pulling ahead by 27 points. The Musketeers shot 71.4 percent from the field overall, just shy of the school record of 72.2 percent.

“I told our guys heading into the game they’re literally going to press from the first second of the game to the very last second of the game,” Xavier coach Travis Steele said. “It was either a turnover or a bucket for us in the second half.”

Goodin had 16 points, 10 assists and a career-high seven steals. Marshall had 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, feeling familiar against the Colonels’ press. Marshall played one season for Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton when he was at Hargrave Military Academy.

“Very similar,” Marshall said. “I already knew what was going on.”

Senior forward Nick Mayo had 25 points and became Eastern Kentucky’s career scoring leader , passing Matt Witt’s mark of 1,832 points in 2002-06. Mayo set the record midway through the first half, hitting back-to-back 3s for a 23-16 lead — the Colonels’ best moment of the game.

“I knew I was seven points away because of all the talk about it,” Mayo said. “It is something I will look back on. When I hit the 3, I knew I had it and it was time to focus on getting the win.”

Goodin and Marshall had back-to-back steals that helped Xavier grab the lead, and Hankins took the game over with his 11 straight points.

BIG PICTURE

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels rely on their full-court press for turnovers — they’re 11th nationally with 9.7 steals per game — but Xavier got comfortable against it midway through the first half and went inside for baskets.

Xavier: The Musketeers were limited to perimeter shots against crosstown rival Cincinnati and went only 5 of 25 from beyond the arc. They had better shots against the Colonels but still couldn’t hit them early, missing their first five before getting the ball inside. Xavier went 7 of 16 from beyond the arc.

SHOW STOPPER

Goodin lobbed the ball a little too high for Tyrique Jones during a fast break, but the forward went up with one hand, got it and slammed it down .

“He’s my roommate so we talk about it all time,” Goodin said. “I’m like, ‘If you don’t get it, you’re not going to get it again.’ From my angle, that was amazing.”

FOUL SHOOTING

The Colonels were only 5 of 15 on free throws, a huge disappointment to Hamilton.

“I’m OK with missed 3s, or if you miss a tough layup, but I’m not OK with missed free throws,” he said. “We have better players than that, not to be focused enough to hit those free throws.”

SERIES STUFF

Xavier leads the series 13-5, including nine straight wins over the Colonels, the last four at the Cintas Center.

UP NEXT

Eastern Kentucky plays at Duquesne next Saturday.

Xavier plays at Missouri on Tuesday.

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