Oral Roberts beats depleted No. 8 Xavier 64-42
CINCINNATI – Dominique Morrison scored 19 points Sunday, leading Oral Roberts to a 64-42 victory over previously unbeaten Xavier, which couldn't do much with three of its starters suspended.
The eighth-ranked Musketeers (8-1) didn't have point guard Tu Holloway, shooting guard Mark Lyons or freshman forward Dez Wells, who account for 40 percent of their points. The trio was suspended for a brawl eight days earlier against crosstown rival Cincinnati.
The depleted lineup couldn't get in sync or keep up with the experienced Golden Eagles (8-4), who start three seniors and two juniors.
Travis Taylor scored 11 points for Xavier, which lost for only the second time in the last 46 games at the Cintas Center. It was the Musketeers' worst loss at Cintas, which opened for the 2000-01 season, and their worst home loss overall since an 80-49 defeat to La Salle on Jan. 23, 2000 at Cincinnati Gardens.
Xavier had the week off since its 76-53 win over Cincinnati on the Musketeers' home court. The game was called with 9.4 seconds left when a brawl broke out. Each team suspended four players.
Holloway, one of the nation's top point guards, got a one-game suspension for instigating the brawl with his trash talking. Lyons got two games and will also miss Xavier's opening game against Long Beach State in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii on Thursday.
Wells got a four-game suspension, along with walk-on Landen Amos. They were in street clothes on the bench for the game. Holloway was the last one out of the locker room, walking slowly across the court by himself in a yellow button-down shirt.
Xavier coach Chris Mack went to midcourt and addressed the crowd for 55 seconds before the game, saying, "We were all embarrassed by our behavior last weekend. It's extremely disappointing and in no way was a representation of what our university and our basketball program is all about."
Junior guard Brad Redford and freshman point guard Dee Davis made their first career starts for the Musketeers, who were missing their top two scorers in Holloway (17.6 points) and Lyons (17.4). Davis had 10 points, Redford two.
Xavier center Kenny Frease played with a prominent cut below his left eye, caused by a punch from Cincinnati's Yancy Gates during the brawl. Frease needed seven stitches.
Frease had Xavier's first field goal, a bank shot that fueled a 5-1 opening spurt against Oral Roberts, which was coming off a 67-61 loss at Gonzaga on Thursday night. The Golden Eagles then patiently took advantage of the Musketeers' inexperience on the court.
Damen Bell-Holter got open under the basket for two uncontested layups during a 12-0 run that put the Golden Eagles ahead to stay, 16-7. Xavier missed seven of its first 10 shots and couldn't get into a flow offensively without its top two ball handlers.
Warren Niles hit a 3-pointer and a pull-up jumper during a 10-point run that pushed it to 31-14. Xavier shot only 36 percent from the field and had 12 turnovers in the half, which ended with the Golden Eagles up 36-19 — Xavier's lowest-scoring first half in more than a year.
Xavier never got closer than 16 points in the second half, with the lead getting as high as 30 points.