No. 3 Xavier beats Providence 84-74 for 1st Big East title
Joe Kay | AP sports writer
9:01 PM, Feb 28, 2018
10:31 PM, Feb 28, 2018
CINCINNATI (AP) — Trevon Bluiett scored 23 points in his final game at the Cintas Center, and No. 3 Xavier never trailed while beating Providence 84-74 on Wednesday night, clinching at least a share of its first Big East championship.
The Musketeers (26-4, 14-3) can win it outright by beating DePaul on Saturday and end Villanova's run of four straight regular season titles.
Bluiett will leave Xavier as its second all-time scorer. He made the game's first basket on a driving layup, and finished off the Friars with a dunk and a pair of free throws in the final minute. Quentin Goodin added 18 points, one shy of his career high.
The league title was another major step in a record-setting season for Xavier. The Musketeers moved up to No. 3 for the first time this week. Their latest win matched the school record for victories in the regular season. And they got the best of one of only three teams to beat them this season.
Providence (18-12, 9-8) won 81-77 on Jan. 6 but couldn't pull off the sweep after getting off to a slow start and getting into foul trouble. Top scorer Rodney Bullock fouled out with 4:42 left after managing only six points. Maliek White led with 15 points.
Xavier opened with a 21-8 run, but wasted chances to build on the fast start, missing eight of their first 10 shots from beyond the arc.
Providence made 12 of its last 14 shots in the half, cutting the deficit to 40-37. Xavier found its touch to start the second half and made eight of its first 10, rebuilding the lead to 12 points. Providence never got closer than six the rest of the way.
The Musketeers' last conference title was 2011 in the Atlantic 10, where it won or shared nine regular season titles. When the buzzer sounded, the team gathered around a championship trophy at midcourt as confetti and streamers were shot off from the rafters. They then cut down the net in front of their bench.
Musketeers play at DePaul on Saturday. They beat the Blue Demons 77-72 at the Cintas Center on Dec. 30, Xavier's seventh straight win in the series.