MUSKIES BLITZ BADGERS IN MADISON!! EPIC ROAD WIN!!
Andy Mac Williams,
ANDY MAC successfully nuked his full length multi-faceted article re the Muskies' terrific road win last night at Wisconsin so here are the cliff notes. Shorter is better anyway!! Experience pulled the Muskies through. Vets Bluiett,Macura,O'Mara and Gates combined for 64 points and 26 rebounds in the 80-70 victory in BIG TEN Country. All four exorcised the demons from Xavier's 66-63 loss at the buzzer to Wisconsin in the 2016 NCAA Tournament at St Louis.
Macura apparently incurred the wrath of the Badger student section as he accumulated 20 points-8 rebounds and 4 assists. They chanted "A__hole" at him all night long and collectively flipped him the bird. After J.P. punctuated the Muskie win and a late rally with an acrobatic alley oop dunk to make the score 78-66 XU,Macura showed his command of basketball history by making the Gator Chomp with both arms referring to Wisconsin's overtime NCAA loss to Florida in last season's Sweet 16. Seems like a normal human response to me!!
Trevon Bluiett embarked on a personal 8 point run late with Xavier trailing 66-64. He scored 12 of XU's 16 points over the last 2:30 to fuel the run away win(25 points in 39 minutes plus 9 rebounds for Tre after making just 4 FTs in the first half).
Soph BIG Tyrique Jones made huge plays down the stretch. With Xavier up 69-66,he tracked down Badger star Ethan Happ from behind-stole the ball and helped set-up a Bluiett three that fleshed out the lead to 72-66. Then Tyrique buried 2 free throws. Basically ball game over at that juncture!!
Gates contributed nicely(11 points-7 boards). O'Mara battled Happ down low and scored 8 with 2 rebounds. Freshmen Scruggs and Marshall struggled a bit in their first road game at a very tough venue but ate up 30 minutes and allowed J.P.,Gates and company to negotiate foul trouble and grab some rest.
#15 Xavier goes to 3-0. XU is 2-0 in the Gavitt Series vs the BIG TEN with road wins at Michigan (86-70) and now at Wisconsin(80-70). UW had won 12 straight non-conference home games. Xavier won the rebound numbers handily(37-28) and hit the free throws(20-23-87%).
The Muskies turned it over only 3 times in the second half adjusting to the Badgers' physical defense. Tyrique Jones made 3 of 4 FTs after canning 5 of 6 against Rider. He shot 47% from the line last season. His hustle steal from Ethan Happ is one of the best energy effort plays.
I've seen in 34 years of watching Muskie basketball. The BIG EAST leads the Gavitt Series 4-3 so far over the BIG TEN with one game left-Friday-DePaul at Illinois.
SCOUTING THE HAMPTON PIRATES:
Xavier is home Monday against Hampton from the MEAC-8:30 Tip-FS1. The Pirates are considered strong contenders for the MEAC's NCAA automatic bid. They've gone to the tournament 3 times in 8 years under Coach Edward Joyner. In 2015 they won a First Four Play-in game at UD Arena over Manhattan.
Hampton is a work in progress. They have a great high scoring guard Jermain Marrow(23PPG-6 assists). Hampton lost 90-75 at Rider and 83-76 at William and Mary. They blew second half leads in both losses. Hampton plays GW in DC Saturday before travelling to Cincinnati.