Balanced No. 12 Xavier beats Georgia 70-56
By JOE KAY
CINCINNATI (AP) Tu Holloway had a bag of ice on his shooting hand after the game, which might normally be an ominous sign for No. 12 Xavier.
Not with the way their newcomers are playing so far this season.
Holloway scored 12 points despite a sore finger on his right hand Friday night, and the Musketeers turned to their balance and their youngsters for a 70-56 victory over poor-shooting Georgia.
Xavier (4-0) extended its success against the Southeastern Conference by making full use of its roster for the first time this season. Only one player was on the floor for more than 26 minutes - center Kenny Frease, who had 12 points in 30 minutes.
Their senior point guard has more options than ever this season.
"It makes the game a lot easier for me," Holloway said. "I don't have to force the issue and sometimes take bad shots or have bad turnovers because I'm trying to make plays. As a point guard, that's what I want. Maybe if I was a shooting guard, I wouldn't be happy. But I'm a point guard. It makes the game easy for me when I can dish the rock off."
Holloway had to do more passing than shooting on Friday. He bent a finger on his shooting hand while diving for a ball in practice last week. Coach Chris Mack said the injury prevented him from taking any long shots.
"He's such a tough kid. He just seems to get beat up little bit," Mack said. "He let the game come to him. He was in attack mode and played hard defensively and didn't let that stop him from being the leader he is."
Georgia (3-2) missed its first 11 shots, fell behind 10-0 and never recovered, trailing by 36 points midway through the second half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 14 for the Bulldogs, who shot 32 percent from the field.
"We got off to a very slow start," coach Mark Fox said.
Xavier has won eight of its last nine games against SEC teams since 2008, beating Georgia three times during that span. The Musketeers also have wins over Florida, Auburn and Louisiana State.
Their only SEC defeat was at home to Florida last season, the Musketeers' only loss in their last 43 games at the Cintas Center.
Xavier won in Athens 65-57 last season, when Holloway failed to score in the first half, then had 18 to help the Musketeers pull away.
Holloway is trying to get into a rhythm after a tough opening stretch. He had to sit out the opener against Morgan State because he played too many summer games, a violation of NCAA rules. He returned and had 24 points against IPFW, but was physically subpar in a 66-60 win over Miami of Ohio a week ago.
Holloway was light-headed in the days leading up to the Miami game, in which he scored only nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. Now, he's also contending with the sore hand.
The Bulldogs were coming off 61-57 win over Notre Dame on Tuesday in the CBE Classic consolation game. They lost to No. 20 California a day earlier.
The Musketeers showed off their newcomers while taking control. At one juncture during the 10-0 opening run, Mack had freshman point guard Dee Davis, freshman forward Dez Wells, freshman forward Justin Martin, junior Travis Taylor and junior guard Mark Lyons on the floor. Taylor finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
"We're not a finished product yet," Taylor said. "Today showed a great sight for the future, but we're still bonding."
Mack wanted to get his newcomers into the game early and let them play significant roles.
"I love our freshmen," Mack said. "I've never coached where I felt I have as many players that are talented enough and working hard enough to get into the game. I've never had that as a coach."
Xavier pushed the lead to 14-3 with Georgia going 1 of 16 from the field with six turnovers in the first 10 minutes. Wells had the most crowd-pleasing play during the run, taking the ball around his back to avoid a steal while driving for a layup.
It was 28-19 at the half, with seven Xavier players scoring, none more than six points. The Bulldogs were 6 of 28 from the field with 11 turnovers.
Holloway got involved during a 12-point run that opened the second half and pushed the lead to 40-19. He hit a pair of free throws, a layup and a fadeaway jumper. Georgia missed five shots and had two turnovers during the decisive spurt.
Updated November 26, 2011