Musketeers Drop First Home Game in Big East Play
By Kealind Trent, 1/2/2019

After opening Big East play with a road win over DePaul on Saturday, the Xavier Musketeers fell to a surprisingly stout Seton Hall squad in the Cintas Center tonight. Despite multiple 20+ point efforts from the likes of Paul Scruggs and Zach Hankins, the defensive effort was not sufficient and Myles Powell's 25 points and 8 assists were enough to lead the Pirates to a 80-70 victory.

The first half saw a very competent looking Xavier team playing at an efficient offensive clip. Hankins and Scruggs combined to score the first 13 points for the Muskies. Consistent ball screens and pick and roll play was exposing a lack of interior presence on Seton Hall's side. This consistency led Hankins to an early 18 points and Xavier to a 40-31 point lead with under three minutes to play in the half. However, some timely play from Myles Powell helped Seton Hall close the gap to a 42-38 Xavier advantage at the break.

Seton Hall opened the second half with scoring consistency and a better defensive effort and had the Xavier lead closed to 2 points at the 15 minute mark. The following three minutes were all Paul Scruggs as he scored or assisted on the next 8 points to extend the Muskie lead to 56-46 in seemingly a blink of an eye. However, the Pirates had an answer: Myles Powell. Powell capitalized on a stale Xavier offense and showed off his playmaking capabilities by closing the game out with 13 points and 5 assists in the last 11 minutes and, not only brought the Pirates back, but brought them to an advantage. Xavier looked uninspired in the last several minutes and ultimately fell to the Pirates.

MOVING FORWARD:

- Myles Powell continues to assert himself as one of the better shows in the NCAA. He has now had huge games against the likes of the Muskies, the Kentucky Wildcats, and St. John's. He's averaging over 22 points and will surely make a case for Big East Player of the Year as the season progresses.

- Hankins and Scruggs looked utterly unstoppable in the high ball screen in the first half. While the second half saw Xavier go away from this offense, this could be a key component to maintaining offensive success as we get deeper into Big East play.

- The three-point shot continues to be an issue for the Muskies as they once again shot well under 30% from the arc. Seeing the importance of this aspect in today's game, this will need be addressed and some consistency will need to be found.

- Xavier will look to get back on track as they leave the confines of the Cintas Center to play Marquette in Milwaukee on Sunday at noon.




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