No longer undefeated: Xavier falls at Villanova after early-game scare

Ryan Arcidiacono hit seven 3s and finished with 27 points. (USATSI)

More than a week after No. 6 Xavier needed a 15-2 second half run to beat Wake Forest in the Skip Prosser Classic, the Musketeers fell for the first time this season, losing 95-64 in their Big East opener at No. 16 Villanova on Saturday.

This top 20 matchup got off to a scary start when Xavier freshman Edmond Sumner was removed from the game on a stretcher following a hard collision in first three minutes of the game.

Good news: The Fox Sports broadcast reported after halftime that Sumner was conscious and in the hospital with the ability to move and speak.

Sumner had 21 points and nine rebounds in the win at Wake Forest and was a key part of the second-half run. His injury stunned both teams and all 6,500 fans packed into The Pavilion, but it also removed one of Xavier’s most exciting young players.

Returning to action a little stunned, Xavier had no answer for Villanova’s sharp shooting early, led by senior Ryan Arcidiacono (27 points on 10-for-19 shooting, including seven 3-pointers) and a quick 19-3 run in the first five minutes after the injury created a cushion that the Wildcats would hold for the rest of the afternoon.

In total, it was one of the most complete performances by Villanova this year. Five players finished in double figures and the Wildcats shot 63 percent from the field for the game. Xavier has been fantastic on defense at times this season, but could not disrupt the interior ball movement or do anything about the Wildcats’ lights-out 3-point shooting. It’s going to be a ton of fun to watch the top tier of the Big East battle over the next couple months, with Villanova, Xavier, Butler and maybe even Providence or Georgetown all fighting for league supremacy.

The Musketeers, who were a No. 1 seed in Jerry Palm’s Bracketology projected bracket, will get another chance at a quality Big East hosting Butler on Saturday. Though Sumner’s status is unknown.

The list of unbeaten teams has now been trimmed to three: Oklahoma, SMU and South Carolina. Xavier’s fate is similar to Michigan State, now at 13-1 after losing its Big Ten opener to Iowa on Tuesday. The Sooners will try to avoid this trend in their own conference opener against 11-1 Iowa State on Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma.


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