The Xavier Musketeers seemed to be headed south but completed its largest comeback in Cintas Center history to edge the East Tennessee Buccaneers 68-66.
Trevon Bluiett's field goal from the left of the key completed the resurgence.
Down by 22 points with a scant 14:25 mark of the second half after Bo Hodges connected on a 3-point shot after a turnover. Xavier scored on their next two possessions but ETSU (6-4) still led by 20 with 12 minutes to play.
Xavier freshman Naji Marshall and Buccanneer leading scorer Desonta Bradford traded layups with 1:55 left.
Marshall was getting extra playing time as fellow frosh, Paul Scruggs served a penalty for "not living up to Xavier's standards," according to coach Chris Mack.
Quentin Gooden drove for a layup with 1:30 left but ETSU's Jalan McCloud missed a layup. Karem Kanter tied the game with a 3-point shot to set up Bluietts game winner.
“We played our hearts out. We couldn’t finish. We had opportunities to close it out but missed some shots. We can’t leave Kanter open like that," ETSU coach Steve Forbes said.
The Buccanners led 39-27 at halftime and built on it during the second half.
Both teams were in exam week but Mack verbally kicked himself for giving too much study time to his team.
"I gave them too much time off. We were off four of the seven days during exams," Mack said. "I should have had them come in an hour which isn't much time out of the day to keep our routine. I told their coach that the best team didn't win tonight."
East Tennessee had a chance on national television to make a name for itself. Peter Jurkin, a 7' senior transfer for Indiana scored 11 points and blocked five shots. The Buccanneers held the second best shooting team in the nation to a 38 percent shooting mark.
“I told our guys that Peter (Jurkin) was the best player on the court tonight,” Forbes said.
As well as they played the finish left ETSU with a sick feeling.
Bluiett had 18 points for the victors but had to shake off a 7-for-22 shooting night. Marshall had career-high 15 for Xavier. The Musketeers second leading scorer on the season managed just one point and three rebouns in 21 minutes. He was shaken up during the second half and logged just 21 minutes.
Bradford doubled his season average with a 20-point effort. Jalan McCloud scored 10 and Andre Edwards scored 10 points.
Prior to tonight Xavier's largest comeback at the Cintas Center was a 19-point erasure of Purdue's lead on December 3, 2011. Xavier trailed 55-36 with under 10 minutes.
Xavier (10-1) will host the Thundering Herd of Marshall on Tuesday night at 6:30 to try for its 39th straight non-conference win at the Cintas Center.