LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla, (AP) — Xavier found its scoring touch in the second half to put away Alabama.
Trevon Bluiett scored 15 points, J.P. Macura added 14, and No. 23 Xavier beat Alabama 64-45 in the first round of the AdvoCare Invitational on Thursday.
Macura helped the Musketeers (5-0) overcome an early first-half deficit, while Bluiett was part of a second-half surge that gave Xavier a comfortable advantage.
“Hopefully as we settle in, we’ll get better on offense,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “I thought we were much better in the second half than we were in the first.”
Shannon Hale and Justin Coleman had 10 points each for Alabama (2-2). Dazon Ingram added six points and nine rebounds.
“They seem like they have a little bit more mental and physical stamina than we have,” said Alabama coach Avery Johnson of Xavier, which has reached the NCAA tourney in nine of the last 10 years. “We’re not there yet. We’re still playing catch up in those areas.”
Consecutive long-range jumpers by Myles Davis and Bluiett put Xavier ahead 36-28 early in the second half. Bluiett had a steal and basket before another 3-pointer by Davis, and James Farr’s layup made it 43-28 with 13 minutes to play. Xavier made 8 of its first 13 second-half shots after shooting just 24.1 percent during the opening half.
Jalen Reynolds’ basket extended the lead to 60-37 with 4 minutes left. He had 10 points.
“We just broke down,” Hale said.
Macura came off the bench and had 11 points as Xavier rallied from an early seven point hole to go up 27-24 at halftime. He entered averaging 10.8 points, the team’s third-best average.
“I just needed to provide energy to the team,” Macura said.
Hale had all his points in the first half, including a 3 in the final seconds.
Both teams struggled offensively during the first 20 minutes.
The Crimson Tide made 3 of 15 from 3-point range, and were 10 for 29 overall. Xavier made 7 of 29 shots, including seven straight misses to start the game.
“The positives are, we played pretty good defense in the first half,” Johnson said. “When we’ve had a game like this, we seem to bounce back.”
The Crimson Tide ended 5 for 28 (17.9 percent) from 3-point range.
Alabama guard Retin Obasohan, averaging 14 points, was held scoreless in the first half and finished with two points,
Xavier: The Musketeers are 17-5 since 2008 against current SEC opponents, including 3-0 in games with Alabama.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s last victory over a ranked opponent on a neutral court came Nov. 29, 2009, a 68-66 win over then No. 15 Michigan at the Old Spice Classic.
ON THE GLASS
Xavier outrebounded Alabama 47-31 to continue a trend this season. The Musketeers entered with a 14.5 average advantage in that department.
Alabama was coming off an 105-93 win over Louisiana-Lafayette where it made 60 percent (15 for 25) from 3-point range.
Xavier: Advances to today’s semifinals and will go against the winner off No. 20 Wichita State and USC.
Alabama: Will play the loser of No. 20 Wichita State-USC in today’s consolation round.