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Xavier holds off Miami of Ohio

CINCINNATI -- Tu Holloway couldn't make a shot. Xavier (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) made sure the point guard's rare off night didn't have a ripple effect.

Mark Lyons scored 11 of his 18 points in the first half Friday and Xavier held on for a 66-60 victory over Miami of Ohio that fit the rivalry's pattern of close games that come down to the closing minutes.

Xavier (3-0) got just enough from Holloway to break open a back-and-forth game. The senior guard didn't get his first basket until 11:02 remained, a driving bank shot that put Xavier ahead to stay 46-44.

Holloway didn't feel well in practice leading up to the game, forcing him to rest at times. He finished with nine points on 3-of-12 shooting.

"He was a little light-headed (the) last couple of days," coach Chris Mack said. "Not to make excuses for him, because I thought Miami did a great job. Tu wasn't necessarily himself."

Holloway was content to run the offense and pass the ball. He had seven assists and four steals.

"If his shot's not falling, he's got great teammates to pass to and that's what he did," Lyons said.

Kenny Frease added 13 points and seven rebounds for Xavier.

There were seven ties and 14 lead changes, with neither team leading by more than six points until Xavier put on its late push and built the lead to 60-51.

Bill Edwards scored 21 points for Miami (1-1), which stayed in the game by going 8 of 19 from behind the arc. The RedHawks committed 18 turnovers, leading to 24 points by the Musketeers.

Miami's young and depleted lineup -- one player suspended, two hurt -- pulled off a 72-67 win in the RedHawks' season opener at home against Dayton on Tuesday night. The RedHawks are forced to start four sophomores along with senior forward Julian Mavunga, who had 17 points.

The RedHawks were trying to open with back-to-back wins over Atlantic 10 teams. They had to settle for a split.

Xavier has won nine of the last 12 matchups between the southwest Ohio schools, but few of those wins came easily. The RedHawks tend to give Xavier's up-tempo offense fits with its dug-in defense and deliberate style. They held Xavier to 19 first-half points last Dec. 1 in a 75-64 win at Miami.

"Past coaches here likened playing Miami of Ohio to going to the dentist," Mack said. "I'd much rather go to a dentist than play a Charlie Coles-coached team."

Playing their second game with a complete lineup, the Musketeers struggled at the outset.

Xavier opened the season with an 11-point win over Morgan State despite missing Holloway, who was serving a one-game suspension for playing too many summer league games. He returned and had 24 points on 7-of-10 shooting in an 86-63 win over IPFW on Tuesday.

Holloway got off to a slow start this time, missing all five of his shots in the first half. Lyons, who had 22 and 21 points in the first two games, respectively, paced the Musketeers by hitting four of his first five shots.

"Did we do anything special on Holloway? Nah," Coles said. "Holloway's just getting into shape here now. I really mean that. He showed a lot of patience. He can break you down anytime you want to, but he didn't do that much. He only took 12 shots."

Freshman forward Dez Wells had a pair of driving bank shots as Xavier pulled ahead 11-5 -- the biggest lead of the half by either team. There were five ties and 11 lead changes in the half. Edwards scored Miami's last eight points, including a pair of 3s that helped the RedHawks take a 34-32 halftime lead.

Mack criticized his perimeter players' defense at halftime.

"Coach thought we were being soft," Lyons said. "We're a tough-minded team. He got under out skin by calling us soft."

The back-and-forth pace held at the start of the second half. Holloway hit a driving bank shot for his first basket, putting Xavier ahead to stay, then passed to Frease for a dunk that put Xavier up 48-44 midway through the half.

Holloway stole the ball and made a behind-the-back pass to Lyons for a three-point play that brought the crowd to its feet. Wells followed with a steal and layup that made it 57-49 with 4:28 left, the biggest lead of the game to that point.

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