Muskies Just Miss Mega Upset at Marquette
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier almost pulled the MEGA UPSET Wednesday night vs Marquette in Milwaukee losing 69-68 on an MU tip-in follow w/ 1.6 seconds left. Jack Nunge got a turn around jumper off at the buzzer after corralling a long in bounds pass from Jerome Hunter but no go. In a crazy stat TOP 4 BIG EAST teams(Marquette, XU, PC and Creighton) are now 30-0 at home in conference games. XU came oh so close to making it 29-1 with the late lead twice in the final minute but Muskies turned the ball over twice against Marquette trapping full court pressure. X grabbed a 68-67 when Jack Nunge scored on a quick hitter pick and roll w/ about 9 seconds left but MU countered and scored. 11 second half turnovers doomed XU. Xavier played with terrific grit and just 7 players.
Frosh guard Des Claude would have played 20 plus minutes and thrived in a the physical rock fight that took place but he sat out w/ illness. PG Souley Boum hadn't practiced since the Butler game last Friday with a sore ankle. He sucked it up and sniped for 24 points on 10-15 FGs w/ 4 made "3s". MU roughed him up w/ Stevie Mitchell hand checking constantly and mixing in the occasional body block. Boum turned it over 7 times.
X led by 13 early and 28-24 at the half playing their best most prickly defense of the season-grabbing 6 steals (4 by Adam Kunkel) and causing a ton of deflections. Xavier defended without fouling. MU shot 34% FG. Top scorer Kam Jones was 1-10 from the floor.
The second half produced more offense. X led by 6 55-49 with 8:42 left when Boum was manhandled into a turnover and Nunge was tagged w/ a technical foul on the ensuing run out. Two MU FTs and a Marquette "3" added up to a 5 point play off an egregious Zebra no call.
It was close the rest of the way. X kept bouncing ahead in the final 3 minutes (Colby Jones "3"-a Jerome Hunter back-in 2-two Hunter FTs but the critical late turnovers flipped the script.
I hate to carve the refs but Adam Kunkel fouled out and was unavailable down the stretch. His scrappy floor game keyed the sticky Muskie defense. 3 of his fouls were ticky tack during on the floor loose ball scrambles while Mitchell beat the living heck out of Boum repeatedly-hand checks-pushes-punches-home cooking.
Marquette solidifies 1st place in BIG EAST at 13-3 w/ XU, PC and Creighton all tied for 2nd at 11-4. Muskies have lost three BE road games(at DePaul, at Butler, at Marquette) by a total of 4 points. XU faces two critical home games in four days starting with DePaul Saturday (4 PM Tip-CBSSN) and continuing with Villanova next Tuesday (6:30 PM-FS1). XU is 7-0 at Cintas in conference games. Time to extend that streak. Hopefully Des Claude will bounce back quickly and be available rock fight.