Freshman point guard Terrell Holloway returned from a stress fracture in his foot and put the sizzle back into Xavier's offense last night, helping the 10th-ranked Musketeers stay unbeaten with a 78-56 victory over visiting Ohio.
Xavier (8-0) has matched the second-best start in its history - the 1992-93 team opened the same way. The school record is a 10-0 start by the 1996-97 team.
Even though the record remained perfect, the Musketeers have had problems on offense in their last two games without Holloway, their quickest ballhandler, best free throw shooter and flashiest playmaker. He was back in form during the last 5 minutes of the first half, leading an 18-2 run that left Ohio (4-4) down and out.
C.J. Anderson scored a career-high 22 points, and Derrick Brown added 18 in a balanced offense that had its point guard back. Holloway's best moments came during the decisive run.
He passed to Brown for a three-point play, hit a floating jumper in the key, and had a steal and a pass to Brown for a fastbreak dunk that highlighted the run and put Xavier up 48-25 at halftime. Holloway had those two points, three assists and three rebounds in 15 minutes.
Brown was 7-for-7 from the field, making all three of his shots from behind the arc, one week after coach Sean Miller wondered aloud about his inconsistent play as he recovers from a sprained ankle.
Miller was so upset with his team's lackadaisical defense in the second half of an 81-74 win over Auburn a week earlier that he threatened lineup changes. The lineup was the same last night, and with Holloway back, so was the offense.
The next one will be a tough one. To stay perfect, the Musketeers must beat crosstown rival Cincinnati on the Bearcats' homecourt Saturday.
Cincinnati (6-1) will have had a full week off when it plays Xavier, which has won six of the last nine games between the schools separated by only 3 1/2 miles.
In other games:
* At Oklahoma, Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead the No. 5 Sooners (9-0) to a 78-52 victory over Maine. Oklahoma is off to its best start since the 2003-04 team opened with 10 straight wins.
Mark Socoby had 10 points to lead the Black Bears (5-5).
* At Washington State, Josh Heytvelt scored 22 points and No. 4 Gonzaga defeated the Cougars, 74-52. Austin Daye added 14 points and Jeremy Pargo had 11 for the Bulldogs (7-0), who ended a two-game losing streak to their regional rival.
* At Penn State, Jamelle Cornley scored 15 points and the Nittany Lions defeated Army, 60-45. Talor Battle and Danny Morrissey each scored 14 points and Andrew Jones added 13 for Penn State (8-2).
Josh Miller scored 10 points to lead the Black Knights (2-7).
* At Princeton, Gregory Echenique had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead Rutgers (6-3) over the Tigers, 49-44.
* At Boston College, Rakim Sanders hit five three-pointers and finished with 19 points to lead the Eagles (7-2) to their fourth straight win, 80-61, over Bryant University.
* At Loyola (Md.), Jamal Barney scored 21 points as the Greyhounds (3-7) defeated Coppin State, 73-70. Bartram High product Tywain McKee led all scorers with 28 points for the Eagles (1-5).
* A Syracuse University judicial hearing board ruled that junior guard Eric Devendorf violated the Student Code of Conduct after allegedly hitting a female student in the face. It recommended that he be suspended for the rest of the academic year. He is expected to appeal the decision. *