Indiana Edges Musketeers in Gavitt Games Battle
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier battled #12 Indiana(Big Ten favorite) down to the wire before losing 81-79 to the Hoosiers Friday night at Cintas. The SRO crowd (10,566-14th largest in Cintas' 23 year history) witnessed a terrific ball game.
Sean Miller: "Heck of a game-not many college basketball games before Thanksgiving are better than that."
Amen to that!! XU had two chances to grab the lead in the final 20 seconds. Souley Boum slipped on a wet spot and turned the ball over after a Muskie defensive stop. Then Adam Kunkel missed a tough driving corkscrew lay-up w/ about 5 ticks left after IU frosh Mark Reneau bricked two FTs.
X played well enough to win offensively (79 points-18 assists to just 12 turnovers-44% FGs-7 made "3s"-73% FTs-5 players scoring in double figures). Muskies did not limit the IU "known quantities" though All American BIG Trayce Jackson-Davis dropped 30(13-16 FGs) and veteran PG Xavier Johnson scored 23. Both just overpowered the XU defense, Xavier led 40-38 at the half. They were up 9 twice.
The first 4 minute WAR of second half was a KILLER. Miller. " I was disappointed-we came out not ready. We had 5 fouls. Souley picked up two to give him 4. We mised shots at the rim". IU built up an 8 point lead about 7 minutes in but X kept counter punching.
Colby Jones was a game time decision w/ an ankle sprain. He sucked it up and played beyond expectations(36 minutes-13 points-6 assists-7 boards-3 steals-2 blocks) just about his normal stat sheet stuffing line. Miller said the following after the game:
"A lot of guys would not have played. I really respect him. He did the best he could without practicing for almost a week."
Jack Nunge summed up XU's short comings.
"We gotta defend better and box out-gave up too many offensive rebounds. We have to defend with no fouling."
"Our defense was not good enough. Gave up 50 points in the paint. We will continue to work on defense and keep developing our depth. We need more pop from the bench. We believe in those guys and will keep giving them chances."
IMHO Des Claude fought Indiana wunderkind G Schifino to a draw in their match-ups. Des looked more poised. Miller coached his rear end off-using 10 players-changing "Ds"-counseling his troops aggressively. Miller sums up the night.
"We lost because we had no answer for Trayce Jackson-Davis. If Kunkel scores, we're having a parade around here right now, but we still have the same problems to keep working on."
XU takes Saturday off then begins prep for a high octane Holiday Tourney in Portland, Oregon. They fly out Tuesday and open Thanksgiving vs Florida (SEC) at 5:30 PM EST on ESPN2. A win over the Gators probably means Top 10 Duke on Friday.
Villanova lost 73-71 at Michigan State last night. VU missed a contested "3" at the buzzer for the win. Gavitt Games winds up 6-2 in favor of Big Ten. DePaul won at Minnesota. St Johns clobbered Nebraska. Both Xavier and Nova came close Friday vs Big Ten royalty.
More coming on XU-Florida early next week. HAPPY TURKEY DAY!!!