X Picks Up Road Win at Oklahoma St. in BIG EAST-Big 12 Battle
By Andy Mac Williams, 12/5/2021

Xavier checked a lot of positive boxes in Sunday night's 77-71 BIG EAST Big 12 Battle win at Oklahoma State. They won their 1st true road game of the season against a Power Conference team . It was their 3rd NET(NCAA Evaluation Tool) Quad 1 victory(beating a Top 75 NET team on their floor). Muskies booked NET Quad 1 by besting Ohio State at Cintas(top 30 at home) and another Quad 1 in Brooklyn topping Virginia Tech on a neutral floor(Top 50). XU posted one Quad 1 last season(1-3 overall). Muskies did their share vs Big 12-evening the series at 2-2 w/ 6 more to play next week-beginning Tuesday w/ Butler at Oklahoma(ESPN2). Overall, XU is 3-0 in the Battle vs Big 12 (wins at TCU, home over Oklahoma and now away vs Oklahoma State).

Xavier confounded the odds makers (OSU went off a 3 and a half point favorite-KenPom had Cowboys 68-66. Muskies overcame 10 first half turnovers-36% shooting and foul trouble for Jack Nunge and Colby Jones-rallying from a 39-35 halftime deficit.

OSU scored on a bunch of lay-ups in the first 20 and shot 56%. Travis Steele made adjustments. The players executed and quickly tied it at 48-48 w/ 14:23 left riding Paul Scruggs twisting back-in shooting and Colby Jones' rebounding.

At the media time-out Travis switched to 2-3 zone after seeing Oakland and Wichita ride that "D" to victory in Stillwater. Worked like a charm!! X led 58-50 3 minutes later-switching man "D" periodically-throwing OSU's driving offense completely out of kilter.

Muskies got into FT bonus early as Cowboy's chased the score and X put the hammer down(16-20 2nd half FTS). They led by 14 w/ 2:57 left and cruised home-consistently cracking OSU's very physical full court press to salt away a valuable NCAA resume' gem of a victory. X outrebounded a burly Big 12 team in their own building 42-33 w/ 14 offensive rebounds.

Colby Jones was clearly the best player on the floor(17 points efficiently on 6-10 FG, 4-6 FG. 12 rebounds-7 offensive-4 assists and 3 steals). Colby came into the game 7th NCAA in offensive rebounds/game(4.17). What an impact player!!

Paul Scruggs took a couple hard knocks,but just controlled the second half when Colby wasn't(19 points-4 rebounds). Nate Johnson had 15 without forcing shots when OSU tilted their defense his way after halftime.

X found an "A line-up using two BIGS Jack Nunge and Zach Freemantle w/ Scruggs, Jones and Johnson and subbing in Dwon Odom and Adam Kunkel, That group led the run out of 48-48 to the 8 point lead.

Freemantle played 19 minutes in his 2nd game after the foot injury(3 points-3 rebounds-smart passes-strong box outs). Good progress w/ another step forward Wed. at home vs Ball State(6:30-FS1) leading into the Crosstown Shootout Saturday vs UC at Cintas(8:30-FS1). The real Zach is re-emerging after 3 months of inactivity. The creative passing between 24-32-1-10 and 3 is going to be special.

Dieonte Miles played w/ more purpose and confidence(I7 minutes-3 made FTs-5 rebounds-solid banging against OSU 7 footer Cisse(Memphis transfer-AAC Frosh of Year 2020-21).

First half was not pretty w/ 6 minute scoring drought late-losing a 6 point lead-down by 4, but adjustments were made. Travis popped the zone at a perfect time. He subbed in offense-defense like a maestro down the stretch and navigated foul trouble well.

X is 7-1 w/ 3 more non-conference games left all at home(Ball St, UC, Morehead) before Marquette at Cintas to open BIG EAST play Saturday Dec 18th. Without that flu bug intruding, Xavier would probably be 8-0 but you'll get no revisionist history here. The 3 NET Quad 1 wins are stacked up in the barn.

The Bearcats have to come bussing over from Clifton to Victory Parkway for the Shootout Saturday. Bearcats beat Bryant 73-58 Sunday Night at Fifth Third Arena to improve to 7-2 and new coach Wes Miller has them playing hard. We'll have plenty of content here leading up to Ball State Wed and UC Saturday.

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