X Completes Non-Conference Slate with Road Win at UNI
The No. 9 Xavier Musketeers completed their non-conference schedule victorious on Friday evening on the road, knocking off Northern Iowa, 77-67, before a sold-out crowd of 6,355 fans at McLeod Center. Senior J.P. Macura returned to the starting line-up after missing last game with blurred vision and led the charge of four Muskies in double-figures scoring. Macura finished with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting including 3-of-6 from the 3-point range. Junior Kaiser Gates notched 11 points and nine rebounds, likewise returning to the active roster after sitting out against Marshall due to concussion protocol. Seniors Trevon Bluiett and Karem Kanter rounded out the leading scorers for Xavier with 13 and 10, respectively. With the win, Xavier improves to 12-1 while UNI drops to 8-4.
The Muskies came out of the gate careless with the basketball, turning it over a season-high 13 times in the first half. That mark, which eclipsed their season average for turnovers for the entire game entering the contest, allowed the Panthers to take a 10-point lead, 22-12 halfway through the first half. But, senior preseason All-American Bluiett propelled Xavier with eight points during a 10-0 run and a 17-2 surge that allowed the Muskies to retake the lead. Northern Iowa rounded out the first half with a 5-0 run to tie the score at 29 at half.
The second half again saw scoring surges of 11-2 and 13-3 runs by the Muskies and Panthers, respectively, in a a back and forth battle. Xavier went ahead for good as it ticked off another 11-2 run to take a 57-48 with 5:30 left in the game. The Musketeers took better care of the ball in the second half, turning the ball over just two more times, and finished strong from the free throw line. The X-Men converted 10 of 10 from the stripe to finish out the game.
As a team, the Musketeers shot the ball well from long range (12-of-23 3-point FGs), converted well from the free throw line (15-of-19 FTs), and were strong on the glass, out rebounding UNI, 34-28.
With the non-conference slate officially in the books, Xavier can enjoy a couple days off for Christmas and then quickly turns its sights to Big East conference action. The Muskies 2017-18 conference action begins on the road on Wednesday, December 27 at Marquette. Game time is set for 8:30 p.m. EST in Milwaukee.