Musketeers have different hero every night of young season

CINCINNATI – In recent years, it didn’t take much thought to figure out who was Xavier’s leading scorer.

David West. Romain Sato. Lionel Chalmers. All good guesses. All easy picks.

So, who’s the leading scorer on this year’s version of the 21st-ranked Musketeers, the one that’s made quite an impression while going 7-1? Pick one of any six players and the guess could be right.

It changes from game to game. And that’s the best thing about them.

Creighton became the latest team to learn firsthand how difficult it is to defend a lineup that has a lot of options. Xavier’s 79-66 victory on Wednesday night over the previously unbeaten Bluejays was the best example yet.

Given openings against Creighton’s full-court press, point guard Drew Lavender scored a season-high 28 points and had a career-high 10 assists, becoming the latest star of the day in an extremely dangerous offense.

“They’re really balanced,” Creighton coach Dana Altman said. “They have a lot of guys that can score a lot of different ways.”

At least six. The Musketeers have that many players averaging double figures, underscoring their willingness to get the ball to whoever is open. Forward B.J. Raymond leads at 13.5 points per game, followed by Lavender at 12.6, forward C.J. Anderson at 12.5, forward Josh Duncan at 11.6, forward Derrick Brown at 11.1 and guard Stanley Burrell at 11.

Even if a couple of them are having off-days, there are plenty of other choices.

Raymond, Lavender, Burrell and Duncan can make 3-pointers. Anderson and Brown are adept at driving to the basket. Coach Sean Miller can quickly change the look of his offense with a couple of substitutions.

“On any particular night, we have different players who are capable of having a big night,” Miller said. “It’s not always six players in double figures. It’s the ability of a lot of players to have a big game.”

It starts with the 5-foot-7 point guard, who usually makes the right decisions about where to go with the ball. In the first seven games, he was more of a ringmaster, scoring in single digits four times.

When Creighton pressed and produced a fast-paced game, Lavender realized he was the best option. He had a season-high 17 points in the first half alone, making 3-pointers, floating jumpers and driving layups.

“That just came about,” Lavender said. “A couple of guys weren’t hitting their shots tonight, but we’re such a good team that a couple of guys can step up any night. Tonight was my night, I guess.”