No. 15 Xavier meets ASU in Las Vegas title game

Xavier will get a sturdy test Friday -- one that should help the Musketeers prepare for the challenging Big East down the road -- but coach Chris Mack isn't much worried about learning lessons at this time of the season.

"Maybe I should be looking more big picture, but I just like to win," said Mack, whose 15th-ranked team beat George Washington 83-64 on Thursday in a semifinal game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational at the Orleans Arena.

The Musketeers (5-0) pulled away after leading by only six points with less than nine minutes remaining.

Xavier faces Arizona State (5-0) in the tournament's championship game on Friday. The Sun Devils outlasted Kansas State 92-90 in the other semifinal behind a career-high 28 points from wing Kodi Justice, who made 9 of 10 shots from the field, including all four from 3-point range.

Mack, whose team reached the Elite Eight last season, is looking for a more complete effort than he saw Thursday.

"We took our foot off the gas pedal for about five minutes (in the second half against George Washington), and we've got to be able to correct that and hopefully we will," Mack said. "We are certainly not consistent, but I think that happens to a lot of teams this early in the season.

"To be able to play 40-minute complete game, I don't know if you can find 10 Division I teams able to do that this early in the year. We learn a lot about ourselves in tournaments like this. We'll have a quick turnaround and play a really good team."

Mack said Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, the former Duke All-American, has the Sun Devils playing like a "up-and-comer from a big-time conference (the Pac-12)."

Arizona State forward Romello White finished with 19 points and six rebounds against Kansas State. Senior guard Shannon Evans had 14 points. The Sun Devils shot 54 percent from the floor but made only 29 of 44 from the foul line.

"We preach in our locker room we came here to win a championship," Evans said. "We might not be favored, but we'll give it our best shot. We didn't come here to lose."

Justice added: "Playing teams like Kansas State and Xavier builds your resume. Playing Xavier in the championship will pay dividends down the road."

Xavier's Trevon Bluiett, the Big East's leading scorer entering play Thursday, achieved his fifth consecutive 20-point game finishing with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting against George Washington. He added seven rebounds.

Bluiett is more upbeat than Mack about the Musketeers' development early in the season.

"Just as far as my confidence and physical ability and being out there for the team, I'd say we're off to a pretty good start," Bluiett told Cincinnati.com.

Xavier sophomore guard Quentin Goodin tied a career high with 16 points, and Musketeers senior forward Sean O'Mara added 10 points in 16 minutes despite briefly exiting the game after he turned his ankle in the first half.

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