Feelin' Blue in Mizzou: Tigers Top Xavier 71-56
It was a rough night for Xavier faithful as the Musketeers took on the Missouri Tigers in Columbia, MO on Tuesday, December 18th. The Tigers, led by big man Jeremiah Tilmon, took down the Muskies by a final score that was simply closer than the game suggested. While many were hopeful for a glimpse of life against a Power Five opponent on the road, it is evident that the Musketeers have many vices to fill before they take on a rigorous Big East schedule.
Initially, both teams started off rather cold on the offensive end as both shot a combined 4-14 from the field at the under 16 minute official timeout. The turning point for the Tigers occurred from a 17-0 run led by Jeremiah Tilmon, who finished the game with 23 points and 10 boards. Although the Musketeers clawed their way back to get within 6 points of Mizzou, they were outpaced going into the locker room with a 14 point deficit.
The second half was not much better for Xavier, as they trailed 54-31 with 11 minutes left in the game. The team showed lifelessness on both ends on the floor, with the only bright spot coming from junior point guard Quentin Goodin who led the team with 21 points. As a whole, the Musketeers struggled to both move the ball on offense and continued turn it over. Defensively, a lack of hustle and focus were evident for a young Xavier team. This culminated into a 15 point loss that quite honestly was less than what the game suggested. The Tigers outpaced Xavier early on, and did not let their foot off the gas pedal in a 71-56 win.
Xavier plays next on Friday at 7pm in the Cintas Center against the Detroit Mercy Titans. For a team struggling for leadership, identity, and consistency, this tuneup game is much needed before the Big East gauntlet begins. It is evident that Travis Steele and his staff have plenty of work to do before conference play. But the silver lining is this: the team is young, and Xavier has all of the pieces in place to be competitive. Here is to the hope that those pieces are put together. Go X!