Muskies Blast Norfolk State
By Andy Mac Williams, 11/21/2021

Muskies blitzed Norfolk State 88-48 Sunday afternoon at Cintas dispelling any fear of a "TRAP" game w/ an opening 10-0 run. X led 45-16 at the half and just kept adding on. Travis Steele played all 11 available scholarship guys w/ Ben Stanley, Cesare Edwards and KyKy Tandy seeing their first PT of the season. XU shot it well for the first time(54% FG overall-45% from "3 "on 14-31). Adam Kunkel swished eight "3s"(8-10, totaled 26 Points). Xavier single game record is 9-held jointly by Trevon Bluiett and Romain Sato. Kunkel's range seems unlimited-the deeper the better-Brad Redford-esque. Super Senior guard Nate Johnson found his game also(4-8 from "3" and 20 points).

Kunkel's thoughts:

"We have a next shot mentality. Our teammates kept finding us. It felt good. The ball was just buzzing around. We just kept shooting. Next one is going to go down."

Nate Johnson on a change in approach after a slow shooting start:

"Next game mentality. No difference today. Driving. Kicking. Looking for each other. Keep shooting! The next one's in."

Travis Steele on the win:

"I'm proud of this team's mentality. Could have been a trap game after Ohio State, with a quick turn around and an early tip today. The vibe was good, and it started w/ Paul Scruggs right after the OSU win. We had no formal shoot around w/ noon tip, but after breakfast a lot of the veterans just came over and put up shots on their own to get ready.

"Our ball really moved. We drove it-posted it-no matter what defense they were in. No hesitation! We kept the ball hot. Kunkel passed up several early good shots then got the ball back on the same trip for an even better look. Just goes to show great passing teams wind up as great shooting teams. We need to make our FTs though(only 8-16) and improve the turnovers(17 vs Norfolk-goal is 11 or fewer). Passes were on time and on target!!"

Xavier held Norfolk to 48 points-27% FG-13% from "3". Spartans came at 5-0 averaging 87PPG-56%FG-44% from"3".

Travis on his defense:

"They took mainly contested shots-not open ones. Our ball screen "D" and size around the paint worked well. We switched 1 thru 4 and kept the BIGS in the lane and impacted a lot of shots. Not hedging high and hard keeps our defense nice and tight, but hedging will be needed vs some teams."

Colby Jones posted a 10 point-13 rebound double-double in just 23 minutes. He sat the final 12 minutes after taking a shot to the face. Colby is fine though.

Scruggs ran into some foul trouble and played just 15 minutes(9 points-4 rebounds-3 assists). He set the early tempo though. Stat of the game(other than 14 made "3s")-25 assists on 33 FGs). Ball sharing is a beautiful thing!!

Xavier's off to a 4-0 start w/ an NET Quad 1 win(Ohio State) already banked. KenPom overall rating is 32. XU 2 point FG defense is #3 NCAA(stingy sticky 36.1%).

Blocked shot % is #18. Offensive rebounding % is #39(out of 358 D-1 teams). What a difference a year makes in those key categories!!

Muskies travel to NYC Tuesday and play Iowa State (Big 12) Wednesday 7PM on ESPNU in Round 1 of Preseason NIT Tipoff at Barclay Center in Brooklyn Scouting Report on Iowa St coming Tuesday. New Top 25s come out Monday. Let's see where Xavier is slotted.

BIG EAST SUNDAY

#5 Villanova lost to #6 Purdue 80-74 on a neutral court (Mohegan Sun Casino Arena in Connecticut. Nova only played 7 guys and blew an 11 point lead w/ 9 to go. Villanova crushed on the glass by Boilers(38-36) plus shot FTs poorly. VU losses to #2 UCLA and now #6 Purdue.

#22 St Bonnies pounded Marquette 70-54 in Charleston(SC) Classic Title Game. 1st MU loss for Shaka Smart(5-1) w/ wins over #10 Illinois, West Virginia and Ole Miss. XU opens BIG EAST play vs Marquette at Cintas Saturday December 18th.

Mark Schmidt former Xavier assistant coach under Skip Prosser won his 250th game as head man at St Bonaventure(15th year there). First time St Bonnies has been rated nationally in 50 years. Last GREAT SBU team-Final 4 in 1969 w/ Bob Lanier (Size 23 shoes). Schmidt now honorary mayor of Olean, New York.




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