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Xavier edges Marquette, gets Creighton next in Big East semifinal

Semaj Christon of the Xavier Musketeers grabs the

Semaj Christon of the Xavier Musketeers grabs the loose ball in the first half against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the quarterfinals of the Big East Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 13, 2014. Credit: Getty Images / Elsa

If Xavier is pronounced ZAY-vee-ur, then Thursday night's Big East Tournament victory for the Cincinnati school was Xany, a 68-65 decision that ultimately left Marquette with Xilch.

And allowed Xavier to Xero in on Friday night's semifinal against the highest remaining seed, No. 2 Creighton.

Xavier (21-11) trailed almost the entire first half until junior Justin Martin (19 points) hit a three-pointer with 40 seconds left for a 29-27 lead. And that hardly was the end of the tug-of-war with Marquette (17-15).

On to the second half: Xavier inched ahead by four at 36-32. Marquette tied it. Xavier led by two. Marquette tied it. Xavier went up by three. Marquette tied it. Xavier opened up its largest lead of the game at 47-41. Marquette, with five quick points from reserve junior guard Todd Mayo, got a nose back in front at 48-47, then fell behind by five, pulled back within two, slipped behind by four. And so on.

Martin finished with 19 points and Semaj Christon had 18 to lead Xavier. Freshman Deonte Burton led Marquette with 23 and Mayo had 21.

There were, throughout the evening, the obligatory dives for loose balls. Turnovers. Forced shots. Blocks. Rough fouls. Exclamatory dunks. Xesty stuff.

New York Sports