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No. 16 Xavier keeps pace atop Big East, routs St. John’s, 96-71

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Jack Nunge poured in a game-high 21 points while Colby Jones added 19 to lead No. 16 Xavier to a 96-71 rout of visiting St. John’s on Saturday at Cincinnati. Read more news: No. 10 Texas emerges with win from tight battle at No. 7 Kansas State

Xavier (19-5, 11-2 Big East), which led by as many as 30, drained a season-high 15 3-pointers. The Musketeers are the nation’s leader with 20.8 assists per game and continued that trend Saturday with 26 assists on 32 made field goals.

The win kept the Musketeers tied atop the Big East with Marquette, which also improved to 11-2 in conference play with a 60-52 home court win over Butler.

AJ Storr and Dylan Addae-Wusu each had 14 points to lead St. John’s (14-10, 4-9), which continued its spiral down the conference standings. The Red Storm lost for the fourth time in five games and for the ninth time in 12 games.

It was Xavier’s second game without star big man Zach Freemantle, who is out for several weeks with a left foot injury. Xavier was able to pick up the slack against the Red Storm from the start.

Xavier raced out to leads of 7-0 and 17-4 and 24-8 and never were threatened. Jones made his first five shots from the field, including three 3-pointers, to lead the early surge for the Musketeers with nine points in the first eight minutes.

The Musketeers opened the game making nine of their first 12 shots from the field, with all three misses coming on 3-point attempts.

St. John’s closed to within 37-26 before Nunge hit consecutive 3-pointers on Xavier’s next two possessions to push the lead back to 16 at 44-28.

Jones and Nunge led the way for the Muskies in the first half with 13 points apiece, helping to stake Xavier to 49-30 halftime lead.

Souley Boum hit a 3-pointer just 13 seconds into the second half to extend Xavier’s lead to 22.

After Addae-wusu converted a layup, Jones and Adam Kunkel had consecutive baskets and the lead ballooned to 56-33. Xavier’s 15-5 surge in the opening five minutes opened the lead to 64-35.

Nunge’s uncontested 3-pointer, his third of the game, raised Xavier’s lead to 67-37 with 14:10 remaining.

–Field Level Media

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