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Second Half Provides Encouragement as Men's Hoops Absorbs Loss at No. 22 Xavier

MSU Athletics

Playing its second top-25 opponent this season, Morehead State men's basketball outscored the No. 22 Xavier Musketeers by five in the second half, scoring 44 points, but a 20-4 first-half run by the team on their home court proved to be too much to overcome as the Eagles fell 86-63 at the Cintas Center Wednesday night.

MSU (6-5) fell behind 47-19 at the halftime break, but forced X into eight mistakes in the final half and outscored the Big East Musketeers (10-1) 44-39.

Second-year center Johni Broome collected his 19th career double-double (and sixth this season) with game-highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds, marking his second consecutive 20-point effort. MSU also got a career-best five three-pointers made and a career-high 19 points from grad transfer guard Tray Hollowell.

But, once again an opponent was able to separate itself from the Eagles by burying a plethora of three-pointers. Xavier finished with 11 triples and shot 49 percent overall.

"I really thought, despite the score, we were executing and getting good looks at shots in the first half," said head coach Preston Spradlin. "The issue was were not hitting shots and we allowed that to affect our defensive mindset. We cannot do that against what I think is the best team we've played all year in Xavier. But, you saw a whole new mindset in the second half. We played much smarter, forced them to call two timeouts they didn't want to, and played a much better half."

Xavier continually built upon a lead in the first half and before the Eagles knew it, they trailed by 30. But, MSU scored the first six in the second half and later had the margin back down to as low as 17 (56-39) with 12:24 to play.

The Eagles finished at 41 percent (27-of-66) on shooting for the night but could only manage to hit 4-of-6 free throws while seeing the Musketeers knock down 17 of 18 free tosses.

MSU also had 31 rebounds, including seven offensive grabs by Broome.

The Eagles return to non-conference action when they host Spradlin's alma mater, Alice Lloyd (Ky.), at 4 p.m. ET as part of a doubleheader with the MSU women's team playing USC Upstate earlier.

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