No. 9 Xavier beats Temple 83-74

February 5, 2009 6:25:57 PM PST
B.J. Raymond scored 24 points and led a 3-point barrage that swept No. 9 Xavier to its 11th straight win Thursday night, an 83-74 victory over Temple that kept the Musketeers perfect atop the Atlantic 10. Facing a defense geared to take away the inside, Xavier (20-2, 8-0) made most of its big shots from way outside. Raymond went 5-of-7 from behind the arc during his fourth straight 20-point game, and freshman Brad Redford made four 3s as Xavier went 11-of-18 overall.

Temple (12-9, 4-3) was looking for a bookend Top 10 upset - the Owls knocked off No. 8 Tennessee in December. They couldn't come close as Xavier made sure the conference's top scorer got few open shots. Dionte Christmas had only 12 points on 6-of-16 shooting.

Christmas leads the conference in scoring for the third straight season, averaging 20.5 points per game. Raymond stuck with him in Xavier's man-to-man defense, making sure he didn't get an open shot. Christmas missed his first four attempts - one an air ball - against the tight coverage.

Someone else would have to come up with a big game to keep Temple in it. Surprisingly, Sergio Olmos was the one to do it.

The 7-foot center didn't even attempt a shot in Temple's 74-65 win over Richmond on Saturday. He made hook shots and jumpers while scoring 10 points in the first half, which ended with Xavier ahead 38-34. Olmos and Lavoy Allen scored 18 of Temple's first 20 points while Xavier chased Christmas around the court.

Xavier is one of the nation's best at getting the ball inside and drawing fouls, so Temple took away the pass inside, leaving the perimeter open. The Musketeers took advantage by going 7-for-11 from behind the arc in the first half, with Raymond hitting four 3s.

In a one-minute span, Raymond and Redford combined on three 3s.

Raymond hit another 3 during a 10-point run that put the Musketeers in control 52-39 with 13 minutes left. Reserve forward Jamel McLean had five rebounds, a putback and a free throw during the spurt.

Olmos and Lavoy couldn't keep up their first-half pace, and things got grim for the Owls when Christmas picked up his fourth foul with 11:48 to go. Consecutive 3s by Redford pushed the lead to 17 points midway through the half. Temple never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.

Xavier point guard Terrell Holloway sprained his left foot during an 82-80 win over Massachusetts on Saturday, leaving his availability in doubt. He started and moved well, but was ineffective - finishing with five turnovers and was 0-for-4 from the field.