CINCINNATI (AP)—After a couple of disorienting losses, No. 22 Xavier got its balance back.
Jason Love scored a career-high 15 points as Xavier took advantage of its size advantage, and freshman guard Brad Redford scored a career-high 15 points from behind the arc Wednesday night, leading the Musketeers to a 78-57 victory over Robert Morris.
Xavier (10-2) was coming off back-to-back losses to Duke and Butler that sapped the Musketeers’ confidence. They were sloppy and sluggish in a 74-65 home loss to Butler on Saturday that prompted coach Sean Miller to make a lineup change against Robert Morris (6-7).
Freshman point guard Terrell Holloway made his first career start. Holloway is the only true point guard on the roster, and the offense tends to bog down when he’s not on the floor. He finished with six points and a career-high five assists.
“Sometimes you have to take inventory and say, ‘What decision can we make that could raised our ceiling, help us be where we want to be in February?”’ Miller said. “Terrell is our only true point guard. He can get better.”
Jeremy Chappell led Robert Morris with 17 points.
Holloway was gaining a bigger role each game before he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot, forcing him to miss two games in late November and early December. He has been working back into form from the injury, which has limited his practice time.
He made his mark early on.
Holloway passed to Love for an early basket as Xavier took the ball inside against the Colonials’ overmatched front line. Xavier opened with a 20-9 run built upon its inside game—the 6-foot-9 Love had seven of the points from under the basket and scored a season-high 11 in the first half.
“I just wanted to come out and kind of shake that Butler game off our shoulders and show that we came ready to play tonight,” Love said.
When Robert Morris sagged inside, Xavier took advantage as well. Derrick Brown made an open 3-pointer from the right corner, and Redford made a pair of 3s that pushed it to 38-19. Redford finished 5-of-8, with every shot coming from behind the arc.
“I struggled in the first few games,” said Redford, who had not scored more than seven. “My teammates and coaches kept me up. If I’m open, coach wants me to shoot it. If I get an open look, I’m going to let it go.”
Redford, known for his long-range shooting, has been struggling to get open shots and play defense.
“He had some tough practices early, which is what you would expect of a freshman,” Miller said. “He’s kept working. He’s really started to do it in practice. You could see that tonight was coming. He’s a great weapon to have. Make no mistake—there’s no better shooter.”
Xavier went 8-of-18 from behind the arc, extending a tend by Robert Morris. In their seven losses, the Colonials have allowed opponents to make 47 percent of their 3-point attempts.
Rob Robinson had a pair of baskets that helped the Colonials cut the lead to 50-39 early in the second half. Love and Redford ended the comeback by restoring Xavier’s inside-out balance. Love had a couple of up-close baskets, and Redford made back-to-back 3s that pushed it to 60-41. Xavier led by as many as 26 points before sending in its substitutes.
Jamel McLean had a career-high 11 rebounds, helping Xavier dominate the boards. The 6-foot-8 sophomore forward had a total of six rebounds in his last three games, a slump that became a focal point for the coaching staff in the last few days.
“It was brought to my attention that I haven’t been the same person,” McLean said. “The coaching staff showed me on film what I had been doing. It kind of lit a fire.”