MUSKIES SOLVE SETON HALL. ROAD
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier overcame some daunting history while posting a come from behind 73-64 BIG EAST road victory at Seton Hall Saturday afternoon. XU had won only once(2016) at Providence, Villanova,and Seton Hall in New BE PLAY DATING BACK TO 2014(1-13 RECORD). This season the Top 4 BE teams(VU,XU,PC and CU) had compiled a perfect 45-0 record in their home cities. The Muskies flipped the script against a veteran SHU Pirates team at the sold-out Rock after losing in Newark,NJ four times in four tries. It wasn't easy!!!
Seton Hall started quickly leading 13-5 after the first four minute war. X was hammered early on the glass and coughed up some turnovers. J.P. Macura came ready to play though. He coaxed SHU top scorer Desi Rodriquez into nagging foul trouble and made enough shots to keep the Muskies in contact. X trailed 35-30 at the half despite the rebounding troubles and sub par shooting and missing two front ends of FT one and ones.
Coach Mack had to juggle his line-up also. BIG Kerem Kanter struggled against SH low block rock Angel Delgado. Kanter was limited to 9 minutes and no points. Mack adjusted playing Sean O'Mara and Tyrique Jones more extensively(one of the advantages of a versatile experienced 9 player rotation).
SECOND HALF SURGE:
Seton Hall played well early after the break fleshing out a 10 point lead. XU refused to panic-got better on the boards and defensively and began to make shots.The muskies reeled the Pirates in wearing them down with a deeper bench and a virtuoso performance from feisty #55 Macura, The SHU student section had targeted J.P. from the warm-up on(chants of J.P. is an a--Hole were constant).
Macura thrived on the derision as he had at Wisconsin and Northern Iowa. He scored 18 points after halftime totaling 27 for the game plus 5 rebounds and 3 assists in a dominating all-court performance. Heading into the final four minute war Xavier led 61-59. Macura took over!! He assisted on a close-in O'Mara basket to put X up by 4 then grabbed a long offensive rebound-got fouled and drained two FTs(plus 5 XU). He dived to create a steal next against Myles Powell then blew past Powell at the other end for a slam dunk follow tip that put the game away(Xavier 67-60 with 1:20 left).
Bench production was vital and wore SHU down.Four Xavier subs played 81 minutes productively(20 points-16 rebounds-12 assists). Seton Hall subs totaled just 26 minutes with 4 points and 2 boards. The SHU regulars were worn-out. Xavier won that final four minute war 12-5 and the game 73-64.
Xavier advances to 18-3 overall and 6-2 in the BIG EAST slightly behind Villanova(5-1). X should climb in the Polls(11th last week) after losses byOklahoma,West Virginia,WICHITA STATE AND TEXAS TECH.