Musketeers Pummel Oklahoma in BIG EAST-Big 12 Battle
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier TEAM 99 Report-Game 7 Dec 9- Muskies pummel Oklahoma 99-77 in BIG EAST-Big 12 Battle game at Cintas. XU finishes Covid compressed non-conference schedule at 7-0. 2nd time in 41 years of being in a conference(1979) X has gone unbeaten in non-conference games (2016 Muskies were 12-0 under Chris Mack and eventually earned NCAA Tournament #2 Seed. XU first team in NCAA D-1 to win 7 games and maybe more importantly during a pandemic to play 7 games. About 20 of 357 D-1s including DePaul of Big East are 0-0. Butler is 1-0 and has postponed next Monday game at Hinkle vs St Johns. Xavier shot the ball at a high level(19 made 3 pointers for a school single game record) and they did it efficiently making 19 of 32. That's like shooting 95% on 32 shots from "2". Overall 57 FG% akin to 2004 shooting display while upsetting unbeaten #1 rated St Joe's in A-10 Tournament at Dayton (X won 87-67 and went on "THE RUN" to their 1st ever NCAA Elite 8.
X shared the ball unselfishly(28 assists on 36 made FGs). Travis Steele labelled his teams' passing " on time and on target". "Depth is a strength of our team. It's going to be different guys on different nights. We watch the bench and huddles closely. Everybody is buying in and on the bus. They all know their time will come."
THE BIG THREE vs Okalhoma-Zach Freemantle (career high 28 points on 12-14 FGs-Nate Johnson 25 points-7 for 9 from "3" Johnson hit from the wing and dead corner-grabbed 6 rebounds and led X in plus/minus at a staggering plus 28. Paul Scruggs scored 20 again efficiently(4-5 from "3" 4-4 FTs) and added 8 assists, 3 steals and 4 boards.
XU and OU traded baskets and the lead over 1st 15 minutes. Travis described it as "open gym." Then Muskies depth and press and mixed in zone defense and on-the-ball grit kicked in. XU went on a 14-4 run to finish up 48-39 at the half then kept rolling in War #1 2nd half for a 30-12 dose of spurtability adding up to a 64-47 lead w/ 15:27 left.
Steele asked his team "to get grimy and gritty and get dirt under their finger nails." Goals were to keep OU PG Austin Reaves off FT line (He shot just 4 FTs after taking 18 in their win at TCU) and run 6-9 Brady Mankek off 3 point arc(3-6 after making 8 "3s" vs UTSA. Missions accomplished!! Muskies can digest and execute a game plan.
Special mention to 6-6 Frosh Colby Jones He guarded All Big 12 Senior forward Brady Manek well after marking UC star Keith Williams in his 1st D-1 game at Sunday's Shootout. Jones has earned Steele's trust "by being there on the catch-fighting through screens and holding his ground against bigger more veteran guys." Colby scored 3 w/ 4 assists and 3 boards. More to come from #3.
Xavier helped bail out BIG EAST vs Big 12 w/ the victory over Oklahoma. Providence pounded TCU earlier Wed. in Forth Worth 79-70 w/ Friar Guard David Duke scoring 28 for second straight game. BIG East and Big 12 split 6 games 3-3 w/ 4 games cancelled by virus. X is 2-0 in Series after winning last Dec at TCU.
Muskies launch BIG EAST play Saturday at Providence (4-2) (6:30PM-FS2). PC sports BE's most beastly BIG-Nate Watson who dunked TCU to death plus 6-5 handful guard David Duke and a bevy of 6-7 6-8 leapers and bangers. Steele expects "An Absolute War. We want a Road Kill."
Paul Scruggs missed last February's rumble at PC with an injury. He'll look for a strong finish this time!! Next Cintas Game Tuesday, December 15 vs Seton Hall (BIG EAST Game #2)(8PM-FS1). SHU opens BE play Friday afternoon vs St Johns at the Rock in Newark (4:30PM-CBS Sports Network).