CINCINNATI (AP)Jerome Hunter scored 15 points and Colby Jones had 14 as No. 22 Xavier rolled past Morehead State 86-63 on Wednesday night.
Jack Nunge had 13 points and seven rebounds for Xavier (10-1), which wrapped up an impressive nonconference slate. The Musketeers avoided a letdown after beating crosstown rival Cincinnati by 20 points on Saturday.
”This team has a really good mentality. Just focus on the next game. Not worry about the game before or what’s coming next,” said Adam Kunkel, who scored 12 points.
Nunge was named Big East Conference player of the week after having a career-high 31 points and 15 rebounds in Saturday’s win over the Bearcats. He came off the bench to deliver another strong performance on Wednesday.
Five different players have led the Musketeers in scoring this season.
”We have a lot of guys who can score and impact the game. We’re going to ride the hot hand,” coach Travis Steele said. ”I think we’re one of the deepest teams in the country.”
Zach Freemantle, making his first start after missing the first six games due to injury, had nine points and three assists.
Johni Broome scored 20 points and Tray Hollowell had 19 for Morehead State (6-5).
The Eagles, who led the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring defense at 65.6 points per game, couldn’t slow down the Musketeers in the first half.
After missing four of its first five attempts from 3-point range, Xavier hit six of its next seven.
”I was proud of the way we started off tonight,” Steele said. ”Offensively, the ball really moved.”
Kunkel hit three straight 3s during an 18-0 run that helped the Musketeers build a 47-19 halftime lead. He finished 4 of 9 on 3s and is shooting 37% this season from long range.
”Once I see one or two go in, my confidence goes up,” Kunkel said. ”It’s that `let it fly’ mentality.”
Despite 15 turnovers, Xavier’s offense was efficient with 25 assists on 29 field goals. The Musketeers are averaging 14.2 turnovers.
”Sometimes it’s decisions off the drive. Sometimes it’s decisions in transition. Guys are going too fast. We have to slow down a little bit,” Steele said.
The Musketeers are off to their best start through 11 games during Steele’s four seasons. They have wins over No. 15 Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati, with their only loss coming against No. 11 Iowa State. Big East play begins Saturday against Marquette.
”We’re 10-1. We have three Quad 1 wins. We’ve had a good nonconference. Moving forward, we’re 0-0,” Steele said.
Morehead State: The Eagles were facing their second ranked opponent of the season and fifth in the past two years. They lost 77-54 at No. 22 Auburn on Nov. 9.
Xavier: The Musketeers are dealing with another bout of illness. Forwards Dieonte Miles and Cesare Edwards did not play Wednesday due to issues not related to COVID-19. Xavier was without three key players, including Miles, in a win over Virginia Tech last month.
Morehead State hosts Alice Lloyd on Saturday.
Xavier hosts Marquette on Saturday.
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