No. 16 Xavier beats No. 17 Providence in OT thriller
CINCINNATI (AP) — Jack Nunge had 23 points and 14 rebounds as No. 16 Xavier held off Providence 85-83 in an overtime thriller Wednesday night.
Colby Jones and Souley Boum each scored 20 points for the Musketeers, who won a showdown for first place in the Big East without injured forward Zach Freemantle.
Noah Locke had 22 points and Ed Croswell added 21 for Providence (17-6, 9-3), who had beaten Xavier three times in a row.
A layup by Boum gave the Musketeers (18-5, 10-2) an 82-79 lead with 51 seconds remaining in overtime. A turnover by the Musketeers resulted in a layup from Devin Carter that cut Xavier’s lead to one with 24 seconds left.
Boum hit one of two free throws, and Jared Bynum’s 3-point attempt from the left corner hit the buzzer as the Musketeers held.
Xavier played his first game without Freemantle, the team’s leading rebounder and second-best scorer. He is expected to miss four weeks with an injury to his left foot, the same foot that required surgery in 2021.
Jerome Hunter, who excelled off the bench for the Musketeers, made his first start this season and scored nine points with eight rebounds. Xavier had used the same starting lineup in each of his previous 11 Big East games.
Things started well for the Musketeers. who went on a 12-1 run to build a 25-11 lead.
With Boum on the bench with two fouls, the Musketeers were without a field goal in the final 4:18 of the first half and the Friars were up 39-35 at halftime.
Providence beat Xavier 8-2 early in the second half to take a 17-41 lead at 43-41.
There was a frantic end to the second half as Adam Kunkel’s 3-pointer gave Xavier a 76-73 lead with 55 seconds left. But then Bynum benched a three and Boum missed two long shots to send the game into overtime.
Providence: The brothers, who won their first Big East regular-season title last year, entered the night level on points at the top of the conference standings with Xavier and No. 14 Marquette, who later hosted Villanova. Providence finished fifth in the preseason.
Xavier: Hunter, averaging 14 minutes, left the game with three minutes left in the OT with an apparent right leg cramp. Hunter played 36 minutes without Freemantle.
Providence: host last-placed Georgetown on Wednesday.
Xavier: Will host St. John’s on Saturday.
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