X Picks Up Big Road Win at Seton Hall
By Andy Mac Williams, 2/25/2023

Undermanned Xavier(without 3 injured scholarship players-Zach Freemantle, KyKy Tandy and Kam Craft) found answers at both ends of the floor and chalked up a strong BI EAST road win-pounding Seton Hall 82-60 in Newark. Muskies advance to 21-8, 13-5 in BE and solo 2nd place for the moment a game and a half back of 1st place Marquette(14-3) and a half game ahead of 3rd place Creighton and Providence(both 12-5). Creighton has a demanding game vs surging Villanova Saturday(Noon-BIG FOX) while PC waits until Sunday to play Georgetown in DC(12:30-also on FOX).

XU started slowly-tied 5-5 w/ SHU 5:39 in. Seton Hall seemed to be getting the choppy half court rock fight they prefer. X had 6 early turnovers, Colby Jones was tagged w/ 2 early fouls. Muskies made just 2 of 7 FGS. X struggled to a 12-8 lead in the 2nd war then just took off offensively adjusting to SHU's handsy trapping "D"=making the extra pass and knocking down shots.

Souley Boum and Adam Kunkel swished "3s". X played pick and role and forged a 23-12 lead w/ Colby on the bench. BIG Cesare Edwards got plenty of time and came up large(4 points-3 rebounds before halftime). Des Claude keyed a physical Muksie "D" producing steals and deflections and one and done SHU possessions.

The Pirates played without injured jumbo PG Kadary Richmond and it showed. The ball didn't move and XU did. Colby returned and added fuel to the XU attack. X dominated leading 40-21 at the half w/ a 22-18 rebounding edge-6 made "3s" vs 1-9 for SHU and an edge in FTS. XU's defense limited SHU to 25%FG. Most importantly Muskies turned the ball over just once in the final 14 minutes.

Boum score 10. Kunkel 8 and Jones 7 in short minutes because of the early fouls. 2nd half and a Muskie slow start. SHU opened w/ an 11-0 run to cut XU lead to 41-33 w/ 15:50 left. Again X just jetted away on a 12-0 run over the next 3 minutes. Boum banged in a "3".

Colby converted a 3 point play after a tough driving lay-up Kunkel knocked down two FTs as X got into the very early FT bonus. It was off to the races! Muskies led by as many as 27 and won 82-60. SHU sort of imploded without Richmond. Things got chippy. Nobody was hurt. Only SHU hot head KC Ndefo was ejected for leaving the bench after a brief dust up.

XU's flow offense returned w/ a vengance. Boum potted 23. Colby scored 19 and rediscovered his FT stroke(7-8 FTs). Kunkel got 13. Jerome Hunter went for 12 and 9. Claude played a terrific floor game(6 rebounds-4 assist-2 steals). Muskies owned the glass(42-27).

XU finishes up a February without Freemantle at a respectable 4-3 w/ the 3 defeats by 4 points total. Freemantle resumes practice this week. How the foot responds will dictate when he plays. X is at PC Wednesday(6:30-FS1) and home Saturday vs Butler(7 PM-FS1). The 7 PM Tip and TV on FS1 were just announced today.

Xavier sat #33 in NET before Seton Hall. The win is a borderline Quad 1(SHU started the night 69 NET) beating a Top 75 on the road is a Quad 1. X is now 6-5 in Quad 1s w/ several more on the cusp including UC, Florida and PC. Muskies now 6-4 away which is a positive for the analytics.

I'll stick w/ my thought that X has a good shots at a TOP 3 BET seed by going 2-1 down the regular season stretch. Off to a good 1-0 start w/ the road win at Seton Hall.

Watch that Creighton at Villanova score Saturday!! A CU loss opens the door wide for X to gain a favorable BET seed and Quarterfinal MSG match-up a week from Thursday. Maybe 1st place Marquette will stumble at home vs DePaul Saturday(7:30 EST-FS1) and put XU just 1 GB w/ two games to play?

Good road win-NCAA Tournament bid is now super secure. Still stuff to accomplish in BIG EAST and hope that BIG Zach gets back into the rotation.

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