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Xavier beats Gardner-Webb 83-59 in season opener
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Matt Stainbrook had 13 points and 12 rebounds in Xavier's balanced offense on Friday night, and the Musketeers pulled away for an 83-59 victory over Gardner-Webb without point guard Dee Davis, sidelined by a concussion.
Xavier (1-0) has won 24 straight season openers since a loss to Southern Utah State in 1989. They've won all 14 openers at the Cintas Center, where they're 83-12 against nonconference teams.
Donta Harper had 20 points for Gardner-Webb (0-1), which trailed by 19 points at halftime and never challenged again.
Stainbrook made his Xavier debut after sitting out last season as a transfer from Western Michigan. The last Xavier player to have a double-double in his debut was Jamel McLean with 10 points and 10 rebounds against IPFW in 2008.
The center lost 50 pounds since transferring, adding quickness to his game. He also led a dominant rebounding performance Xavier had a 45-27 advantage on the boards.
Semaj Christson added 14 points for Xavier, but went only 6 of 12 from the free-throw line.
League Commissioner Val Ackerman was courtside for Xavier's first game as part of the Big East. The only downside for Xavier: the injuries.
Davis suffered a concussion during a scrimmage two weeks ago. The junior point guard also missed time last season with a concussion. Freshman Brandon Randolph took his place and had 12 points and seven assists.
Freshman guard Myles Davis fell hard in the first half and went to the locker room early. A trainer looked at his left knee as the second half began. He didn't go back into the game, which was already lopsided.
Forward Justin Martin got hit while going up for a rebound and left for the locker room with 3 minutes left.
The Musketeers pulled away 41-22 in the first half, doing everything right except hitting free throws. They went only 13 of 25 from the line in the opening half and 22 of 40 overall.
The Runnin' Bulldogs went 21-13 last season, the only Big South team to win 20 games. They're picked to finish second this season in their division behind regular season champion Charleston Southern.
Harper, a junior forward, showed why he's the Runnin' Bulldogs' top returning player. He went 7 of 16 from the field and had three rebounds. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 12.7 points and 4.9 rebounds as a sophomore.
Gardner-Webb got off to an encouraging start, scoring the first seven points. Xavier settled in and took control.
Christon got Xavier going with a 3-pointer and a three-point play that sparked an 11-2 run. He had a game-high 11 points in the first half despite going 4 of 9 on free throws. The ragged half included 28 fouls, many called for blocking on the perimeter.
Gardner-Webb fell apart just before halftime, turning the ball over twice in the last 3 seconds. Randolph was fouled twice and made three of his free throws.