CINCINNATI — Kerem Kanter had 16 points and 13 rebounds and No. 9 Xavier, playing the second half without three starters, held off Marshall 81-77 on Tuesday night.
Xavier led by as many as 23 points but was outscored 50-34 in the second half. C.J. Burks buried a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left to make it a five-point game, but Kanter sealed the Musketeers’ victory with two free throws 10 seconds later.
Marshall’s Jon Elmore hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Xavier didn’t have starters J.P. Macura (blurred vision) and Kaiser Gates (dizziness) the entire game as both were being held out for precautionary measures. Freshman Naji Marshall, who was moved into the starting lineup, took a hard fall near halftime and did not play the second half.
Tyrique Jones added 14 points and 11 boards for Xavier while Sean O’Mara and Quentin Goodin chipped in 14 points each as Xavier (11-1) foiled the Thundering Herd’s bid to claim a first Top 10 win since 2006.
Although Marshall (8-4) entered the game with the nation’s eighth-ranked offense (90.2 points), Xavier held the normally frenetic juggernaut to a season-low 27 first-half points.
The Herd found its rhythm after the break. A 10-0 run set the tone for Marshall’s comeback bid, but the Musketeers persevered despite 29.2 percent second-half shooting.
Ajdin Penava led Marshall with 25 points. Elmore entered the game averaging 24.2 points, good for third place in Division I, but finished with 16. Burks added 18.
Marshall’s four-game winning streak was snapped by Xavier, its only ranked opponent thus far. The Thundering Herd were out-rebounded 37-24.
Xavier finished its non-conference home slate with a 9-0 record including back-to-back wins over ranked Baylor and Cincinnati teams. The Musketeers also capped a six-game home stand on a high note and extended their non-conference home winning streak to 39.
Marshall returns to campus for a four-game home stand against Eastern Kentucky, Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky. The Thundering Herd are 7-0 at home.
Xavier travels to Northern Iowa for Friday’s non-conference finale. The Musketeers are 1-0 in true road games thus far, beating Wisconsin in Madison in November.