FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Xavier coach Travis Steele likes to say his defense travels, and it certainly made the trip for Sunday’s finale of the Big East-Big 12 Battle.
Steele’s Musketeers held TCU to a season-low 32.8% shooting and limited Horned Frogs' leading scorer Desmond Bane to two made free throws in the first half in a 67-59 victory. The final score was deceiving; the Musketeers led by 19 points with 3:44 to play before TCU closed on a 13-2 run. They never trailed and led by as many as 22 points in the second half.
Xavier’s win gave the Big East an 8-2 victory in its series against the Big 12.
“When you go on the road, you have to have something to hang your hat on,” Steele said. “Our defense was really good for about 35 minutes. We made them earn almost every one of their shots.”
The Musketeers are 9-0 when holding opponents below 70 points.
Xavier wasn’t too shabby offensively, either, shooting a season-best 52.9% from the field. Tyrique Jones had 18 points and 14 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season, and Quentin Goodin had a season-high 11 assists.
Bane and Kevin Samuel led TCU (8-3) with 14 points each. Samuel had 10 rebounds.
Bane went into play leading the Horned Frogs averaging 16.1 points per game. He went 0 for 6 during the first half, 0 for 4 on 3-pointers.
“Desmond not getting going early, it puts some added pressure on some guys to think they have to make a play,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “We’re relying on him as most teams are on their leading scorer. But that’s going to happen. What we need to be is consistent defensively, consistent in taking care of the ball.”
Bane was guarded primarily by Naji Marshall, Xavier’s leading scorer going into the game averaging 16.9 points. Marshall scored nine points, eight in the first half, after missing the Musketeers’ previous game because of illness.
Xavier bolted to a 15-4 lead six minutes in. Its largest first-half lead was 28-15 with 7:37 remaining after Zach Freemantle, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward, hit his first collegiate 3-pointer.
Goodin moved into fourth on Xavier's career assists list. Bane moved into 10th place in career points at TCU.
A HOLIDAY THREE DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Xavier freshman guard KyKy Tandy celebrated his 19th birthday. Tandy scored eight points, all in the second half. The team sang “Happy Birthday” to him in the locker room after the game.
Xavier: Having a huge lead throughout most of the second half contrasted with the Musketeers’ 13-point home win over Western Carolina last Wednesday, in which they had to rally from a seven-point deficit early in the second half.
TCU: Bane is searching for his 3-point shot. He has shot 21.7% (5 for 23) behind the arc in the past five games.
Xavier: The Musketeers open Big East play on Dec. 30 at Villanova. They’re 2-16 in road games against the Wildcats, 0-6 there as conference foes, and haven’t beaten Villanova in Philadelphia since the 1955-56 season. “It's a great opportunity to start at Villanova,” Steele said.
TCU: The Frogs play at home on Dec. 30 against George Mason before beginning Big 12 play on Jan. 4 at home against Iowa State.