|No. 15 Xavier looks for another winning hand in Vegas|
Xavier headed to Las Vegas this week looking for another winning hand when it comes to capturing an in-season tournament title.
The No. 15 Musketeers will challenge for their third straight such title in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational at the Orleans Arena.
Xavier (4-0) will play George Washington (2-2) on Thursday. Kansas State and Arizona State will play in the other game. The winners will meet in the title game Friday.
The Musketeers won the Advocare Invitational two seasons ago and the Tire Pros Invitational last season. They won all six games in those tournaments.
"I want to win a trophy," Xavier forward Sean O'Mara told Cincinnati.com. "What am I? Three-for-four in Thanksgiving tournaments if we can get this done, so that's definitely a goal of mine."
Trevon Bluiett scored 21 points and Kerem Kanter added 15 off the bench in a 96-60 victory over Hampton at Xavier's Cintas Center on Monday night. The Musketeers extended their non-conference home winning streak to 33 straight games.
Bluiett has scored 20-plus points in four straight games for the second time in his career.
"He seems so comfortable," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "He has such a unique ability to create his own shot. He needs to be a complete player, and he's working hard at that."
Mack was critical of his team committing seven turnovers in the first half against Hampton, even though the Musketeers built a 43-31 lead by halftime.
"I'd like to see us come out of the box against GW and be ready to go. Be the harder-playing team," Mack said. "Be a team that values the ball on offense in both halves.
"It seems like our (tendency) is to be a team that turns the ball over seven, eight, nine times in the first half and then a couple times in the second. With the experience we have on the court, especially early in the game, we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball and then blocking out and finishing possessions with a rebound."
George Washington is coming off a 67-65 loss at home Monday against Rider.
The Colonials allowed Rider 17 offensive rebounds, which drew the ire of coach Maurice Joseph.
"They got eight extra shots than us," Joseph told the GW Hatchet after the game. "They were hungry to get those extra possessions in times where we needed to get them. A culmination of those things across a 40-minute game will add up and cost you in the end."
George Washington had two opportunities to tie or win the game but turned the ball over and a last-second desperation heave missed.
"A tough lesson for our team to learn, but we have to learn and grow from it," Joseph said. "We have to get better, it is plain and simple."
Graduate transfer Patrick Steeves, who played previously at Harvard, had 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting, and senior guard Yuta Watanabe added a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.