Muskies Bounce Buffalo!! Mizzou (SEC) Next-Thursday-1PM-ESPNU-at Orlando!!
By Andy Mac Williams, 11/15/2016

Xavier (2-0) made solid strides in several areas during Monday Night's 86-53 Cintas Center demolition of defending Mid American Conference Champion Buffalo.The Muskies played harder and with much more grit than they showed in the Opening Night 84-81 win over Lehigh. J.P. Macura set the tone in the first four minute war-scrapping for 4 points and drawing 4 fouls. X led 7-0 with 15:58 left until halftime and Xavier was already shooting bonus FTs.

The Muskie defense was more cohesive-in the gaps-denying the paint-getting flicks and deflections. Rebounding became a team(gang) priority with consistent box-outs.

For the game Buffalo scored just 15 FGs(only 5 of those from two point range)and shot an anemic 30.6% with few second chances around the rim.XU cut the turnovers from17(Lehigh) to 9(Buffalo).Xavier dominated inside scoring with 40 paint points to 8 for the Bulls. And the Xavier bench chipped in 31 points to 10 for Buffalo.Muskie bench minutes jumped up from 38(Lehigh) to 59(Buffalo).

The four Muskie new comers improved markedly from Game 1 to Game 2. Frosh PG Quentin Gooden attacked the rim and had fun playing after a heart to heart talk with Coaches Mack and Steele. "Q" made things happen off the dribble-expanded his PT to 24 minutes(allowing

Edmond Sumner to cut back his playing time) and he produced(11 points-4 assists-3 for 3 FG including a wing three pointer and a powerful dunk in transition).He shot 8 free throws!!

Frosh Forward Tyrique Jones bounced bodies in the paint-grabbed 11 defensive rebounds-scored 6 points-blocked 2 shots-showed improving touch around the basket-drew two charges and set a monster screen to free up Tim Stainbrook for an open three(his first college basket). Coach Mack was most impressed with the charges Tyrique absorbed,his timing as a shot blocker and his potential as a rim protector. Even I've noticed his emerging post moves and increased use of his off-hand.

Senior post Rashid Gaston skirted foul trouble and played an aggressive productive second half(9 points-7 rebounds in 15 minutes). He's a horse on the boards and an efficient finisher close to the rim and those traits emerged against Buffalo. The redshirt year rust is being scraped off and Rashid is getting over an ankle sprain.

Malcolm Bernard continued to do his Swiss Army Knife thing-contributing all over the stat sheet ala Remy Abel(27 minutes-7 points-3 assists-4 rebounds-2 steals). His defensive versatility is a prime asset.

The BIG THREE Sumner,Bluiett and Macura all played well,but they kept their minutes played at 30 or below(a more sustainable level) and XU spread out the scoring. This team is coachable. They dealt well with the Buffalo scouting report clamping down on the Bulls' drive and kick offense.

They corrected a lot of the Lehigh game negatives. Team 95 is a work in progress for sure,but strides are being made. Post scoring needs work. The guards and power guys have to connect with each other better and communicate more. Three point shooting hasn't been too productive(10-28 over 2 games-35%). Three games over four days in Orlando starting Thursday should be very constructive!!!

COUTING THE MISSOURI TIGERS:

Xavier's played Mizzou each of the past two seasons-winning in Columbia 74-58-then prevailing last November 78-66 at Cintas. Now the teams meet in Round One of the 8 team Tire Pro Invitational in Orlando(transplanted from Puerto Rico). XU won the Advocare Tourney on this same Disney floor last Thanksgiving with victories over Alabama,USC and Dayton(90-61) in the Championship Game.

The Tigers are picked 14th and dead last again in the SEC after going 3-15 the past two seasons in conference. Third year coach Kim Anderson has purged the bad apples from former coach Frank Haith's regime. Haith got out of Dodge(actually Columbia) to avoid the NCAA police.

Anderson is rebuilding focusing on man-to-man defense and ball sharing offense. He's a former Mizzou BIG 8 Player of the Year and assistant coach under UM legend Norm Stewart. Anderson has kept just 5 players from last season-4 solid Sophomores plus one Juco transfer Senior.

Missouri is small by SEC standards,but they're playing together and they've apparently bought into Anderson's sober no non-sense approach. The Tigers reportedly lost by 14 to our Big East brethren Creighton in a closed scrimmage-then just got by Division 2 Central Missouri(66-59) in their home exhibition game. They destroyed a weak Alabama A&M team(350 RPI) 99-44 in their Sunday Opener.

New blood abounds for UM. Two Frosh Forwards from Garfield Heights HS near Cleveland are playing BIG minutes. (#3) Frankie Hughes(6-5,192) is a starter(23 points in 21 minutes vs Alabama) including 4 made threes. His Garfield buddy(#2) Willie Jackson(6-6,212) came off the bench(11 points-9 rebounds) to add energy. The lone Senior is (#25) Russell Woods(6-8,235) a Juco who played at Simeon HS in inner city Chicago.

Woods had a good summer and hopes to avoid injury and foul trouble to add much needed post presence. Three Sophs complete the starting line-up. Last season's top scorer and rebounder(#24) Kevin Puryear(6-7,243) who made the SEC All Freshman Team,(# 1) PG Terrence Phillips(5-11,180) a vocal leader who arrived with a pass first label from legendary prep school Oak Hill Academy and three point sniper Cullen VanLeer(6-4,208)(#33). Brownsburg,Indiana Soph K.J. Walton(#11) is the first Guard off the bench.Juco Guard Jordan Geist(#15) played for Billy Gillespie at Ranger College in Texas and is said to be hard nosed defensively. Two 6-10 Frosh Reed Nikko and Mitchell Smith may play.

Expect more effort and togetherness from Missouri. Coach Anderson is a well organized veteran. He'll need VanLeer and Hughes to rain in a bunch of threes to stay with Xavier.

If the Muskies play like they did against Buffalo and maybe amp up their inside offense,they should advance to play either Clemson(ACC) or Davidson(Atlantic 10) in Friday afternoon's Semi-Finals. A reversion to the form XU displayed against Lehigh and we might have a ball game.

The other side of the Tire Pro bracket is made up of Oklahoma(Big 12),Arizona State(PAC 12) Northern Iowa(Missouri Valley) and Tulane(AAC). Xavier will play one of those four teams on Sunday.

XAVIER BY THE NUMBERS:

XU has now won 25 straight Cintas Center non-conference games dating back almost four years to December 2012.

BIG EAST-OFF and RUNNING!!

Through games of Monday November 14th Big East teams are a collective 15-0. Marquette blew out Vanderbilt(SEC) last Friday 95-71. #3 rated Villanova edged #15 Purdue Monday in West Lafayette 79-76 to launch the 8 game Big East-Big Ten Gavitt Series. The conferences split 4-4 last season with Xavier winning convincingly 86-70 at Michigan.

Tuesday Gavitt Games: Maryland at Georgetown and Wisconsin at Creighton. Wednesday: Northwestern at Butler. Thursday: Seton Hall at Iowa. Rutgers at DePaul and Providence at Ohio State. Friday: St Johns at Minnesota.

24 HOURS OF HOOPS RESULTS:

Pat Kelsey's Winthrop Eagles won at Manhattan 94-81. Winthrop is favored in the Big South Conference. Dayton beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa.




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