Muskies Take Out Another Tiger(Clemson)!! 83-77 The Final in Orlando!!
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier improved to 4-0 with their Tire Pro Tourney Semi-Final 83-77 victory over Clemson(ACC) Friday afternoon. XU will meet either Northern Iowa or Oklahoma in the Championship Game Sunday evening(7:30-ESPN2) after a day off Saturday to rest and explore the Disney theme parks.
The Muskies shot the ball much better against the Clemson Tigers than they had in their First Round 83-82 overtime win over the Missouri Tigers. J.P. Macura owned the first half for X scoring 23 points with deadly shooting(9-12FG,5-6 from three) and extreme hustle. Clemson had defended Davidson well in their opening Disney win. They decided to guard Trevon Bluiett and Edmund Sumner first. Those two gave the ball up consistently to J.P. and he made Clemson pay big time.
The Muskies shared the ball superbly with assists credited on their first 10 field goals. Xavier led by as many as 12 points and owned a 41-32 lead at the half. Coach Mack stuck to the pack line defense and Bluiett won his individual match-up with Clemson's All ACC Forward Jaron Blossomgame.
Mack weaved his three BIGS in and out of the line-up as fouls piled up early. XU seemed markedly better across the board than Clemson-an athletic improving ACC team.
Basket trading prevailed early in the second half as Xavier built and rebuilt a double digit lead. It was Muskies 57 Tigers 48 with 11:54 to play. XU decided to use some 1-3-1 zone and seemed to lose their mojo in the process. Clemson chipped away and pulled to within 63-60 on a 9 point run with 5:58 to play.The Muskies responded with a 6 point run over the next 2:30.
Malcolm Bernard who did the little things defensively well all day scored on two creative drives to the hoop and Macura canned 2 FTs.Clemson cooperated by missing several FTs. 69-60 XU with 3:39 left. Bernard helped a bunch running the point at times-defending at several positions and scoring 9 points with 7 rebounds.
Trevon Bluiett played a stellar second half when Clemson tilted its defense toward Macura. Tre was monster(21 points-5 rebounds-4 assists). Edmund Sumner took a shot to the lower midsection but kept on ticking despite an iffy shooting game. He rebounded(6 boards) assisted(6 helpers) and still managed to score 11 points. Macura finished with 28 points 5 rebounds 5 assists and 3 steals(one of the best all court performances by a Xavier player in recent memory).
XU survived the big Clemson run that cut their lead to 3 and then relied on the pack line defense to bring the game home. Shooting was much improved(53%FG-43% 3's-74% FTs). Sean O'Mara scored 10 points including two important late FTs when Clemson trimmed the XU lead to 78-73 with less than a minute to play.
Xavier's now won 5 straight exempt tournament games in Orlando. They swept Alabama,USC and Dayton to win last November's Advocare event. Now they own wins over Missouri and Clemson.
The Big East is 4-3 so far in Gavitt Games match-ups with the Big Ten. Villanova,Creighton,Butler and Seton Hall have posted wins. Georgetown,Providence and DePaul have lost. St Johns plays the 8th and final game Friday Night at Minnesota. Last season the Big East and Big Ten split 4-4.
We'll have a Preview of Sunday's Tire Pro Final Saturday.