Xavier Survives on the Road!! Beats DePaul 68-67!!
Andy Mac Williams,
The Muskies played from behind almost all night long in Chicago. X led 2-0 in the first minute vs DePaul then did not go ahead again until 2 minutes left on a close in bucket by Jack Nunge taking a 67-65 lead. The final 1:15 was crazy!! X edged ahead 68-67 as Nunge (23 points-6 rebounds) made 1 of 2 FTs. The refs needed a long break to adjust the clock down to 50 seconds after XU got a defensive stop and forced a held ball. Muskies cleared out for Paul Scruggs posting up young DU PG Jalen Terry. DePaul rotated to Scruggs in the lane and forced a turn over (apparently no contact and no foul).
DU time-out w/ 23 seconds left and the game in DePaul's hands. Xavier forced the in-bounds to the back court. DePaul tried to set up David Jones( 26 points) above the FT line. Scruggs and Nate Johnson double teamed him and the ball popped loose.
PG Terry picked the rock up and heaved a wing "3" near the buzzer w/ Scruggs closing out hard on him. Terry missed! Ball game over 68-67 Muskies!
DU played without 21 PPG guard Javon Freeman Liberty(leg injury). Blue Demons led by 12 midway thru the 1st half and by 36-34 at the break. DU played volleyball on the offensive glass out rebounding XU 16-7 at the offensive end.
Muskies struggled again w/ close-in shots at the rim. Freemantle just 3-9, but he earned his keep w/ 9 boards and he created that key late tie-up.
Xavier fell behind 50-40 w/ 14 minutes left and just kept clawing back. Colby Jones went on a 7 point personal run (13 points-6 boards-3 assists-strong "D" on David Jones after he poured in 20 1st half points.
Scruggs attacked the rim repeatedly vs Jalen Terry( 8 points-7 assists-5 rebounds). Nunge took over down the stretch making two "3s" and scoring XU's final 10 points.
Muskie bench play was the difference-outscoring the DU subs 33-15. The defense proved gritty late.
It's road kill #4 for Xavier (Oklahoma State, Va. Tech, Butler and now DePaul). X improves to 14-3 overall and 4-2 BIG EAST (solo 3rd behind PC at 4-1 and Villanova at 6-2.
VU lost 57-54 to streaking Marquette( now 5-3). VU's Pavilion win streak in Philly ends at 29 games.
Xavier plays Marquette Sunday in Milwaukee (2 PM EST-FS1). Road wins in the BIG EAST are like gold and XU pocketed a nice nugget in Chicago.