MUSKIES CAPITALIZE AT GEORGETOWN!!
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier bounced back quickly from their Top 4 showdown loss to Villanova last Saturday at Cintas. They weathered Georgetown's dead eye first half shooting display(6-8 from "three") and Trevon Bluiett's shooting woes(1-10 FG with no FT attempts) and foul trouble(limited to 23 choppy minutes) taking out the Georgetown Hoyas 89-77 at the Capital One Center in Washington D.C.
G-town had won two in a row and had lost a close one to Xavier 96-91 in overtime at Cintas two weeks prior The Muskies ramped up the defense after trailing 40-38 at the break allowing 37 second half points and forcing 14 total Hoya turnovers.
GT power forward Markus Derrickson has been unstoppable lately(49 points-25 rebounds the last two games). X limited him to 9 and 4 plus 3 turnovers. They attacked inside forcing Center Jessie Govan to the bench at winning time with foul trouble.
XU won the rebounding paint wars against a strong rebounding team and found plenty of offense to make up for Bluiett's rare off night. J.P. Macura rediscovered his jumper(4 made "threes') and stuffed the stat sheet(20 points-7 rebounds-4 assists and 0 turnovers).
The three Young Guns continued to thrive. Naji Marshall(last week's BIG EAST Frosh of the Week) played his best overall game(career best 21 points super efficiently on 8-10 FGs and 3-4 FTs plus 7 rebounds-4 assists and 3 steals). He darted all over the court in 37 active minutes.
PG Quentin Gooden took an inadvertent hit from teammate Paul Scruggs-sat out briefly as XU fell behind by 7-then bolted off the bench to dominate the Hoya guards(career high 19 points-4 boards 3 assists). "Q" made all three of his "threes" and 6 of 7 FTs. Scruggs is looking more and more comfortable as the lead guard and he continues to deliver physical nasty defense.
Sean O'Mara led the three head Center Monster(18 minutes-9 points-4 rebounds). Kaiser Gates snapped out of his funk(25 minutes-8 points-3 boards-2 assists) and added another big mobile body to defend inside.
Bluiett's performance is an aberration. He's healthy. We know what he can do. Trevon now has 6 days including a weekend bye until his final performance on Senior Night at Cintas against Providence(Wednesday February 28th-6:30PM-EST-FS 1). He will be virtuoso!!
Senior Ceremonies begint at 6PM. Brad Redford and I start our "Talkin' Hoops" program at Duff's early(5:25PM).
MUSKIES BY THE NUMBERS:
The NCAA metrics continue to look encouraging for a possible #1 seed or a worst case #2 seed. Xavier is 25-4 with a #2 NCAA RPI-#5 strength of schedule-an 8-2 road record and 7 quadrant one wins. They lead the BIG EAST at 13-3- a half game ahead of Villanova(12-3).
Xavier clinches at least a co-BIG EAST regular season title by beating Providence at Cintas and winning at DePaul a week from Saturday. Villanova plays three more games(at Creighton this Sat., at Seton Hall next Wednesday and home against Georgetown a week from Saturday). One VU stumble in those three games and XU wins the Championship outright with wins over PC and DU.
BIG EAST RACE:
Xavier and Villanova have clinched the Top two seeds in the BIG EAST Tournament in NYC. If the Muskies win the regular season outright, they get the #1 seed. If they tie, Villanova is the #1 seed based on two head-to-head wins over Xavier.
Butler's currently 3rd(9-7) with road games at St Johns and at Seton Hall. Providence, Seton Hall and Creighton are all 8-7. Marquette is 7th at 7-8 with a chance to escape to the Top 6 and avoid a Wednesday play-in game at MSG. Georgetown is 8th(5-10) with St Johns and DePaul at 3-12.
AROUND THE CONFERENCE:
Seton Hall's Wednesday night game at Providence was suspended because of excess moisture on the Dunkin' Donuts Center floor(condensation from the hockey ice underneath). They finished up on Thursday at Alumni Gym on the PC campus. SHU won 89-77. Seton Hall lost leading scorer Desi Rodriguez with an ankle sprain sustained on the slippery court. He may miss a week or more??
Veteran guard Phil Booth returned to the Villanova line-up Wednesday after missing 7 games with a broken shooting hand. He scored 14 off the bench in VU's 93-62 trouncing of De Paul. Markus Howard did not play in Marquette's's 85-73 win over St Johns after injuring a hip. His return is uncertain.