Burrell helps Xavier ruin Huggins' return to Cincinnati

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Stanley Burrell scored 23 points and led a first-half run Wednesday night that sent Xavier to a 76-66 victory over Kansas State, spoiling coach Bob Huggins' homecoming.

Xavier (10-4) has gone 4-3 since it briefly moved into the Top 25 last month, a stretch that coincided with Burrell's shooting slump. The junior shooting guard has struggled to put together a stretch of solid games.

He led a 15-2 spurt that put Xavier up by double-digits in the first half, and made eight straight free throws that prevented Kansas State (10-4) from catching up down the stretch. David Hoskins led the Wildcats with 17 points.

Huggins returned to the city where he built his career -- and a nationally prominent program -- during 16 seasons at Cincinnati. He was forced out by the school president before the start of last season, but stayed in town until he took the job at Kansas State last March.

During his stint at Cincinnati, some of his most vexing losses came against Xavier, the Bearcats' crosstown rival. Xavier went 8-8 against Huggins' teams and won six of the last nine in their series.

One of Huggins' most painful losses came against Xavier on the Bearcats' home court, a 71-69 defeat at the start of the 1996-97 season when Cincinnati was ranked No. 1.

The Wildcats were on a roll when they hit town, having won six in a row with victories over Southern California and New Mexico in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic. A 3-minute spurt in the first half derailed their momentum.

Burrell scored nine points in a 15-2 run that broke open a close game and put Xavier ahead 35-24. Kansas State had five turnovers during the spurt, completed by Burrell's 3-pointer.

Burrell made a pull-up jumper and a driving layup, and Justin Cage scored on a drive to the basket for a 52-35 lead early in the second half. After Kansas State cut it to 68-58 with 5:39 to go, Josh Duncan had a fastbreak dunk and took a charge, helping Xavier rebuild the lead to 16 points.

It was a disappointing homecoming for Kansas State freshman Bill Walker. The 6-foot-6 forward teamed with O.J. Mayo to win Ohio prep titles at suburban North College Hill the last two years.

Walker used up his eligibility after his junior year, graduated early and joined Huggins, who had long recruited him. Walker's arrival coincided with the Wildcats' recent winning streak. He scored in double-digits in his first four games, but showed his inexperience when he tried to take over against Xavier.

With Mayo watching from courtside, Walker repeatedly forced shots and went 3-of-12 from the field in the first half, missing all of his three free throws. He got his third foul in the opening minute of the second half, and fouled out with eight points on 4-of-14 shooting.

Huggins got the loudest cheers -- and loudest boos -- during pregame introductions at the off-campus arena, where Cincinnati and Xavier play occasionally. Thousands of purple-shirted Kansas State fans were sprinkled throughout the crowd.