Musketeers Cruise Past Central Michigan
By Andy Mac Williams, 12/1/2021

Muskies took rebuilding MAC school Central Michigan seriously(No Trap game here)-made 6 of their first 7 3 point shots-blitzed to a 21-3 lead just over 5 minutes in and disposed of CMU 78-45 at Cintas. XU's perimeter defense was stifling! Chippewas struggled to get shots off w/ several shot clock violations and a ton the empty possessions. Travis Steele wanted tighter 3 point FG defense and he got it. CMU shot 3-18 from "3"(16.7%) and 31% overall. Steele on his team's performance: "I was proud of our approach. We were ready to go-played hard and stayed very connected on both ends of the floor. We are after consistency. To get there no matter who we play. we have to find our identity and work toward better defining that identity every day in practice. That process yields the consistency."

Super Senior G Nate Johnson led the offense again(24 points 8-11FGs) after scoring 30 in VA Tech win Friday in Brooklyn. Nate has drilled 12 of hi last 19 3 point tries(now 50% for season).

Colby Jones returned from the sick list(missed VT game) to stuff the stat sheet efficiently as usual(9 points-4 for 5 FG-7 assists-6 rebounds-3 steals). Jerome Hunter found his 3 point stroke(2-4)-8 points-6 boards-3 steals and a team best +34.

Zach Freemantle played 6 minutes before halftime after being shutdown since August w/ a foot injury that eventually required surgery.

Steele was happy to have #32 back. "He has a lot to relearn. It's like starting class w/ one week until exams for him. He needs extra reps over and above practice. We're trying to figure out rotations and how he fits in defensively at the "4".

Center Jack Nunge won the new Junkyard Dog Award for most hustle plays(along w/ 10 points-7 rebounds and 3 blocks). Steele on Nunge: "I knew he was a really good smart offensive player, but he's really good on defense-getting hands on a lot of basketballs. We are keeping him tight down low because he alters so many shots. Jack is brutally honest in his evaluations. He follows his process diligently-very mature."

Steele was not happy with turnovers (15- too many) and lack of talking on screening action and FT shooting (just 12-23). Xavier is now 6-1.

The first true road game comes up Sunday afternoon in Stillwater, Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State (5PM-ESPN2). XU's BIG EAST-Big 12 Battle Game. The Cowboys are easily a Top 75 Team. That means a Muskie win is an NET Quad 1 victory on the road. Rebounding-Defense and Made FTs win road games! That's the goal Sunday.

Oklahoma State (6-2) shot it poorly Wednesday, losing 60-51 at home to Wichita State (6-21 from "3"-9-19FTs) and coughed up 21 turnovers. Odds are they play much better vs XU.

BIG EAST BIG 12 Battle began Wednesday (10 game series) w/ an upset. Providence (BIG EAST) edged Texas Tech(Big 12) 72-68 in Rhode Island. PC trailed by as many as 14. Indiana transfer Al Durham replaced injured PG Jared Bynum for Friars and scored 23. PC went 2-3 zone and TTECH's offense sputtered. Texas Tech came in 6-0-#11 KenPom-#12 NET. Big scalp for BIG EAST.

Friday Kansas comes east to play St Johns at NHL NY Islanders brand new arena on Long Island. Saturday 7-0 Iowa State at Creighton. Sunday XU at Oklahoma State. Must see TV!! A full scout on Xavier-Oklahoma State will be published here on Saturday.

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