- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

CINCINNATI (AP) - No. 23 Providence couldn’t overcome a slow start or Myles Davis’ big game. And now the Friars know they’re in real trouble.

Trevon Bluiett scored 17 of his 23 points during Xavier’s big first half, and Davis had a triple-double as the eighth-ranked Musketeers held on for an 85-74 victory on Wednesday night.

The Musketeers (23-3, 11-3 Big East) led for all but the opening minute as they piled up 52 points in the first half. They pushed the lead to 21 in the second half and withstood a late run by the Friars (19-8, 7-7) that cut the lead to six.

Kris Dunn scored 23 for Providence, which has lost four of its last five. The Friars were ranked in the top 10 three weeks ago, but have been slipping away since then.

“We all know that,” Dunn said. “It’s just basketball. You’re going to have winning streaks and losing streaks. You’ve got to fight through adversity. Adversity has hit us. This is a big stretch for us.”

Davis had 11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to become the first Xavier player with a triple-double since point guard Tu Holloway against Fordham on Feb. 19, 2011.

“I think he’s their smartest player,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “He’s their leader. He’s their best overall thinker. He’s the captain of their ship.”

Xavier’s Jalen Reynolds had 10 points and 15 rebounds, matching his season high on the boards.

The Musketeers also won at Providence 75-68 on Jan. 26 with a big second-half rally. This time, they just had to hold on.

Xavier made 10 of its first 14 shots, including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, while pulling away to a 26-12 lead. The Musketeers forced six turnovers that led to fast-break layups and dunks, padding their shooting statistics. The Friars called a pair of timeouts to try to blunt the opening run.

“We didn’t come out with the fight or the energy we needed to start the game,” Cooley said. “You can’t spot a good team a double-digit lead.”

The Musketeers pushed the lead to 39-23 late in the half as the Friars lost their cool. Drew Edwards was called for an intentional foul against J.P. Macura. Cooley got a technical foul while arguing that call.

The Musketeers led by as many as 18 points in the half and were up 52-37 at the break, their second-most points in an opening half. Xavier was 7 of 12 from beyond the arc against the Friars’ zone defense. Providence had 11 turnovers in the half.

Xavier missed five of its first six shots in the second half, and Providence cut the deficit to 54-47. Xavier responded with a 15-1 run and then went more than 6 minutes without a field goal as Providence got within 72-66.

Xavier put it away with nine free throws in the closing minutes.

“Once we got into a rhythm, we did a good job,” Dunn said. “Fatigue just hit us.”

SUMNER SIDELINED

Xavier point guard Edmond Sumner had 11 points in only 12 minutes. He picked up his third foul in the opening minute of the second half, sending him to the bench. He got back in, made a basket and hurt a knee. Coach Chris Mack said he could have gone back in but was held out as a precaution.

TIP-INS

Providence: The Friars are 4-4 against Top 25 teams this season.

Xavier: The Musketeers have won all four games at the Cintas Center involving a pair of Top 25 teams, including two this season. The last one was an 88-69 win over Butler on Jan. 2, when Xavier was No. 6 and Butler No. 9.

UP NEXT

Providence hosts Seton Hall on Thursday, Feb. 25.

Xavier visits Georgetown on Saturday.

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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