Saint Louis ends Xavier's home streak 73-68

By Joe Kay

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25 2012 7:45 p.m. MST

Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus urges on his players in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, in Cincinnati.

Al Behrman, Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Brian Conklin scored 10 of his 19 points during Saint Louis' decisive second-half spurt, and the Billikens ended the longest home-court winning streak in Atlantic 10 history, beating Xavier 73-68 on Wednesday night.

Xavier (13-7, 4-3) had its 43-game home winning streak in A-10 play snapped by a team it had beaten seven times in a row. The last visiting A-10 team to win at the Cintas Center was Saint Joseph's on Feb. 28, 2006.

With the score tied midway through the second half, Saint Louis (16-4, 4-2) went on a 12-3 run that featured 10 points by Conklin.

Tu Holloway's two free throws cut it to 71-68 with 22.2 seconds left. Mike McCall Jr. made two free throws with 19.5 seconds left to clinch it. The Billikens went 6 of 6 from the free-throw line in the final 2:21 to hold on.

Xavier's Mark Lyons came off the bench for the first time this season and scored a career-high 27 points. Holloway added 22.

Xavier coach Chris Mack shook up his starting lineup coming off an 87-72 loss at Dayton on Saturday marked by shoddy defense. Lyons — the Musketeers' top scorer at 16.6 points per game — and 7-foot senior center Kenny Frease opened the game on the bench. Mack was unhappy with Lyons at practice during the week.

The Musketeers had some of the same problems on defense and bogged down once they tied it midway through the second half.

The Billikens pulled out to a 13-6 lead by making four of their first five shots, including three 3s. Frease got into the game at the 15:25 mark, Lyons with 12:36 to go in the half. Their return didn't help the defense much — Saint Louis opened 9-of-13 from the field, with Cody Ellis' 3 pushing the lead to 23-14.

The Musketeers trailed the rest of the half, falling behind by as many as 13 points. Mack picked up a technical foul for complaining about calls during a 13-5 Billikens spurt that sent Saint Louis into the locker room with a 41-29 lead.

The Billikens are one of the A-10's most accurate shooting teams, and patiently passed the ball and waited for an open shot against Xavier's man-to-man defense. They shot 52 percent from the field in the opening half, including 7 of 14 from behind the arc.

Fans booed at the start of the second half when the Billikens got two rebounds on one possession. The Musketeers finally made a run behind Lyons, who made back-to-back 3s during a 14-2 run that tied it at 50 midway through the second half.

Conklin then asserted himself during the decisive run that put Saint Louis back in control.

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