WEST LAFAYETTE – Xavier’s Semaj Christon might be only a freshman, but he’s playing like a veteran.
Christon scored a season-high 25 points to lead the Musketeers past Purdue 63-57 on Saturday.
My team, they trust in me a lot, Christon said. I just come out and try to play my game. My teammates find me, and I shoot it and hit the shot.
In the six games he’s played, Christon has scored in double figures in all except one – he scored two points against Butler in his first game.
I have to give it to him; he is really good, Xavier coach Chris Mack said. He’s one of the best freshmen in the country. He’s still going to experience some ups and downs as a freshman, as they all do.
Justin Martin added 12 points and Isaiah Philmore had eight points and seven rebounds for the Musketeers (6-1), who have won three straight.
Terone Johnson had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Ronnie Johnson had 12 points for the Boilermakers.
Terone Johnson’s drive to the basket had given the Boilermakers (3-4) a 46-44 lead, but Christon scored the go-ahead free throw to put Xavier ahead 47-46 lead with 8:02 to play. Brad Redford then hit a three-pointer and Christon scored again to make it 52-46 late.
Christon’s three-pointer with 2:49 left gave the Musketeers a 55-48 lead, and Xavier never looked back.
I think we just came out ready to go at the beginning, Christon said. We try to stay together. That’s our motto, One, two, three, stay together,’ so we just try to stay together.
The Musketeers were just 4 of 13 from three-point range, but they hit them when it mattered.
The Boilermakers, on the other hand, missed all 17 of their three-point attempts, leaving them scoreless from beyond the arc for the first time since 1992.
It all looks good when the ball goes in, no matter what you run or what you do. It looks terrible when it doesn’t go in, Purdue coach Matt Painter said. We have to make a couple of shots; you make a couple shots, it loosens things up, and then it will be easier for all.
Purdue forward DJ Byrd, who led Purdue with 12.7 points a game before Saturday, was held scoreless. All nine of his attempts were from three-point range, including a shot with 8 seconds left and Purdue trailing 61-57.
Byrd was knocked off balance on the three-point attempt, but no foul was called.
I have to do a better job at finding our roles, Painter said. I like our talent; I just don’t like our discipline.
Xavier trailed 29-26 at halftime and took the lead at the start of the second half, but the Boilermakers didn’t go away and didn’t make things easy on the Musketeers.
Xavier shot 43 percent from the field but had averaged 53.6 percent shooting before Saturday. Christon and Martin were the only ones to reach double figures for the Musketeers, who have their starting five averaging double figures on the season.