By Andy Mac Williams, 11/29/2017

Xavier learned well and rediscovered defense quickly in the wake of Friday night's downer 102-86 loss to Arizona State in Las Vegas. Four days and two tough practices later the Muskies beat a BIG BAD BIG 12 Baylor Bear team at their own rebounding- free throw shooting game at Cintas Center 76-63. It wasn't easy!! Baylor is long- experienced(4 Seniors) and wedded to their funky zone defense and frustrating ball control style. XU shot BU out of the zone early with a flurry of three balls(Kaiser Gates-3,J. P. Macura 2) and started fast at home(now 34 straight Cintas Center non-conference victories dating back to December 2012).

The Muskies led 8-2 after the first 4 minute war and 21-8 after the second-shooting the lights out-sharing the ball(7 assists on 7 FGs) and dominating the glass against a huge opponent(10-3 rebounding edge). Baylor bounced back though cutting the lead from 13 to just 3 points.

XU PG Quentin Goodin ran into early foul trouble. Turnovers piled up. Xavier sort of fell in love with the three ball. J.P.Macura slapped an exclamation point on a 17 point first half with a three point bank shot at the buzzer to give Xavier some separation (39-34 lead at the break) though.

Potential seeds of destruction(for the Muskies) were sewn into the halftime box score.Change was needed!! Too many threes(6-16)! Too few free throws(1-3)! Too many turnovers(8)! Xavier had prospered inside the arc making 10 of 13 two point field goals. They had come into the game leading all NCAA D-1 teams(351 total) in two point accuracy(66%).

Adjustments were made. XU started attacking the basket-scoring around the rim and eventually parading to the free throw line. The packline defense was consistently stingy all night long which was a complete flip from the ASU game.


Xavier and Baylor traded baskets early in half two. Kaiser Gates became the "Go To" guy with a corner "thee" and a pump fake and drive for a lay-up. Trevon Bluiett struggled with his shooting(10 points on 3-9 FGs) because of a sore back,but did what he could(4-4 FTs-6 rebounds-3 assists) and chipped in with plenty of hustle for loose balls. XU led just 45-43 at the first media time-out. Enter Frosh forward Naji Marshall!! The Muskies seemed tentative- playing the score-trying to protect the lead. Marshall attacked. He scored 6 to trigger a 12-0 Xavier run over 5 minutes.

The packline defense blanked Baylor shooters. Marshall finished off the run by rebounding his own free throw miss and setting up a Sean O'Mara bucket. XU 57 BU 43(plus 14) with less than 12 minutes to play. Baylor kept making mini-runs. XU got into the bonus early and just buried Baylor in a boat load of foul shots. The Muskies ran two perfect baseline out of bounds plays for easy baskets at critical junctures. BU Coach Scott Drew tried to press. That backfired. Gates drained a corner three with 1:31 left to make it 72-61 Muskies and it was "Ball game over!!" Xavier 76 Baylor 63.


Muskie defense Arizona State to Baylor -about a 99% improvement. XU allowed an ugly 1.40 points/possession vs ASU,but a stingy 0.97 p/p vs BU. The ASU "knowns' Guards Holder and Evans dropped 62 points on XU(20 above their norm). Baylor stars Manu Lecomte(19PPG) and Jo Lual Acil(14PPG) totaled 19 between them inefficiently(7-20FGs).

Baylor through 5 games had murdered teams(including Wisconsin and Creighton) on the boards(plus 13/game). XU was plus 10 against the Bears(38-28) with a 14-8 bulge on the offensive glass. Baylor wins BIG at the free throw line almost every game(plus 10 points/game). Xavier outscored them 18-10(plus 8 points) in a 13 point victory.

Kaiser Gates scored a career high 19 points. He thrived at Wisconsin(11 points-7 rebounds) also. Gates has arrived as a hybrid inside-outside scoring threat plus he rebounds and defends at a high level.

PG Goodin survived foul trouble-scored 6 and posted 9 assists with no turnovers. Scruggs played better as the PG back-up. Both #3 and #1 hounded the good Baylor guards into sub par three point shooting.

Kerem Kanter (Grad transfer-Wisconsin-Green Bay) is getting more and more comfortable and productive as a Muskie(9 points in 14 minutes-5-7 FTs). Canter draws fouls well with his crafty assortment of post moves. Xavier finally beat Baylor after losing three times to them since 2009.

Class act Baylor head coach Scott Drew left the door wide open for a future home and home series against Xavier. He expressed his admiration for Chris Mack's program and complimented the quality of what remained of the media food spread supplied by Cincy Barbecue.


A lengthy Crosstown Shootout Podcast featuring Brad Redford, Leonard Stokes(UC 2003) and Andy Mac should be up tonight on this website. I'll add a full written Bearcat Scout Thursday. The 85th Shootout is set for Noon EST Saturday at Cintas. FS1 televises. I assume Big Fox is airing some boring college football conference championship game??

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