No. 10 Xavier off to best start with 85-61 win over Auburn
CINCINNATI (AP) — With all-around domination up front, No. 10 Xavier made some school history.
Jalen Reynolds had a season-high 18 points as Xavier’s front line controlled the game, and the 10th-ranked Musketeers are off to their best start ever after beating Auburn 85-61 on Saturday.
Xavier (11-0) was comfortably ahead the whole way after an opening 8-0 run. The Musketeers’ forwards had a big game, with Reynolds leading the way. James Farr had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Xavier got 15 offensive rebounds while controlling the boards 42-26.
“There’s a lot we can get better at, but it’s nice to make history when you’re at a school full of history, to make your own niche,” Farr said.
Reynolds, Farr and reserve forward Sean O’Mara combined for 23 rebounds and 40 points.
“I didn’t even know that stat,” O’Mara said. “That’s pretty incredible. Those are some tough numbers to beat.”
Auburn (5-3) hadn’t trailed by more than 14 points all season. The Tigers fell behind by 16 midway through the first half and never recovered, taking their most lopsided loss of the season. They’ve lost their last 18 games against top 10 teams.
Kareem Canty, who leads the Tigers at 19.3 points per game, was their only consistent threat. He finished with 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Nobody else had more than 12.
“We knew they were going to go inside,” Canty said. “We didn’t want to get blown out but we did.”
Auburn point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen dislocated his right shoulder in the first half, his latest setback after having surgery on both shoulders last year.
“I don’t know where we go from here,” coach Bruce Pearl said. “He’s our quarterback. If it keeps going out, at some point we’re going to have to shut him down the way we did last year.”
The Tigers gave Xavier one of its most stinging losses last season, 89-88 in double overtime at Auburn. The rematch was no match.
Trevon Bluiett, who had a season-low three points in Xavier’s 10-point win over crosstown rival Cincinnati a week earlier, opened the game by hitting a 3-pointer. Xavier pulled out to an 8-0 lead as Auburn missed its first four shots.
“Obviously this one meant a lot to us,” Reynolds said. “That left a bad taste in our mouth the last time they got us. We came out with a lot of energy.”
The Musketeers missed several layups but stayed ahead the rest of the half. Reynolds had a bank shot off the edge of the backboard and a pair of free throws during a 9-1 spurt that built the lead to 16 points midway through the half.
Canty hit a 3 in the closing seconds that cut Xavier’s halftime lead to 39-30. Canty had 14 in the half — no other Tiger managed more than four. Reynolds had 14 points and five rebounds.
Bluiett hit a pair of 3s as Xavier pushed the lead back to 16 points early in the second half. The Musketeers also got the ball inside and repeatedly drew fouls, with Tyler Harris picking up his fifth at the 12:07 mark.
Auburn: The Tigers are 24-105 all-time against top 10 teams, their last win a 68-62 victory over No. 8 Wake Forest in the 2003 NCAA Tournament. They’ve lost 20 straight games on a Top 10 opponent’s home court. Their last such road win was Jan. 23, 1993 at No. 8 Arkansas. The Tigers are 2-54 on the road against Top 10 teams.
Xavier: The Musketeers’ previous best start was 10-0 during the 1996-97 season. ... They improved to 18-5 against SEC teams since 2008.
Auburn: The Tigers play New Mexico on Tuesday in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.
Xavier: The Musketeers play at Wake Forest on Tuesday in the Skip Prosser Classic.
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