Muskies Notch Quad 1 Road Win at No. 20 Providence
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier overcame mega-foul trouble and a HUGE Providence home court advantage(17 straight wins at the AMP for the Friars dating back over one year) and outgunning PC 94-89 in Rhode Island Wednesday night. Muskies salt away 2nd place in BIG EAST and #2 Seed in BE Tournament next week at Madison Square Garden. XU gets a Wednesday Bye and plays the winner of play-in game from Wednesday(7 Seed Seton Hall vs 10 Seed DePaul) at 7PM Thursday. X advances to 22-8 overall-14-5 BIG EAST and 7-4 on the road. The win at PC is an NET Quad 1 away from home and should move the Muskies up from #25 NET. X is 6-5 in NET Quad 1s. Muskies' road "W" at Villanova becomes a Quad 1 if Nova beats UConn Saturday in Philadelphia. X wins BE 2nd place outright (at 15-5) with a home win Saturday at Cintas vs Butler (7 PM-FS1) or a PC loss at home vs Seton Hall.
Muskies started quickly leading by as many as 22 early. They were double up 42-21 on PC w/ just 5:17 left until halftime, but foul trouble interceded. Jack Nunge and Jerome Hunter were forced to sit and Friars cut XU's lead to 9 (45-36) at the break. Souley Boum potted 19 in 1st half. Des Claude scored 7 off the bench.
PC zoned late 1st half and continued zoning early 2nd half cutting XU's lead to 55-53 w/ 15:11 left. Muskies were teetering. Then Adam Kunkel stuck a baseline floater for his 1st "2" of the game and followed w/ a long bounce pass to Colby Jones for a speed lay-up. Colby then swished a "3" and X gained some separation.
PC maneuvered into the early FT bonus and kept in contact, but Boum and Colby just kept knocking down shots. Boum scored a scorching 33 points( 11-19 FGs, 4-9 "3s", 7-7 FTs, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, no turnovers). He would get my vote as BIG EAST PO Year if I had a vote. Colby was extraordinary!! Career high 29 points (10-11 FGs, 3-3 "3s", 6-7 FTs, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, no turnovers). 1st TEAM BIG EAST if I had a vote!!
Nobody picked XU to win this one. PC seemed home free for 2nd place with R.I. games vs X and Seton Hall to close out. And PC was a game where lack of depth and lack of Zach Freemantle seemed too much to overcome.
In our Scout we stressed low turnovers and sharp 3 point shooting as vital to a Muskie upset win. Turnovers were low (just 8). PC got very few easy bust-out buckets. X shot the heck out of the ball from "3"(10-20). Add in a bunch of lay-ups and tweener "2s" off the dribble and you get 56% FG to PC's 41%.
Muskies shot 70% in 2nd half-about the best shooting 20 minutes I can remember since the A-10 Tourney upset of unbeaten #1 rated St. Joe's at UD Arena in March 2004. Sean Miller was Associate Head Coach. Xavier made a stirring Run to NCAA Elite 8 before losing a tight one to Duke in Atlanta.
Butler is the target on Senior Night Saturday at Cintas (7 PM TIP-TV is FS1) It's Souley Boum's final home game. 15-5 BIG EAST sounds good to me-solo second place behind Marquette with a 3 game winning streak heading into BET-no Wednesday play-in game for the 1st time since 2019 and an NCAA Tournament berth secure for 1st time since 2018.
Plenty to play for A first ever BET Title and a protected NCAA Seed w/ a possible Opening weekend location in Columbus. Brad Redford and I start our "Talkin' Hoops" Pregame at Duff's early Saturday (6:15) to allow attendees to witness Senior Night festivities.