X Takes Downs Creighton With Monster Second Half Rally
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier TEAM 100 staged one for the program's all time best road rallies ever vs Creighton Saturday afternoon at sold out CHI Health Center in Omaha. Muskies trailed 36-19 (down 17) at the half after shooting 8-35 (23% FG and 1-7 from "3"). XU played hard with nine offensive rebounds, cut the CU lead to nine with about 4 to play before halftime then devolved in the final war - more missed shots - a few bad passes and Creighton padded their lead to 17 at 36-19. X looked DOA in a place where the home team has won 83% of the time over 20+ years. Muskies kept their composure.
As Travis Steele told the TV guys after the mega-comeback Xavier win (74-64 Final): "The halftime score is the most overrated stat in sports. Nobody remembers who led at the half. I wrote "Swagger" on the board in the room and told the guys to be aggressive and have fun They listened." You think!!
X started the 2nd half on a 19-0 run. X led 46-38 (on a 29-2 roll) before CU made its 1st FG. X sucked it up defensively-limiting CU to one shot and done or empty possessions. The "3" ball become Xavier's best friend (9-12 in 2nd half).
Jack Nunge banged in 4 triples on pick and pop actions. Nate Johnson exploded out of his 4 game 1-15 long ball slump-making 4 after the break and 5 of 7 for the game(15 points). Nunge finished w/ 16 points-8 boards).
Paul Scruggs took over after halftime. This is his team and he dragged X out of the deep 17 point hole w/ 13 second half points and 8 assists. Zach Freemantle was HUGE (16 points-8 rebounds plus 2nd effort all over the place.
Colby Jones played an unreal mega-hustle floor game (9 boards-5 assists). Key play w/ 3:47 left and X up 7. Freemantle missed a FT. Colby outworked CU for the rebound. Ball out off CU. X in bounds and Nate Johnson nails a "3" for a 10 point Muskie lead. Ball game basically over. X converted a bunch of FTs (Dwon Odom 5-6) and Xavier salted away a HUGE "W".
Muskies advance to 15-5, 5-4 BIG EAST and post their 4th NCAA NET Quad 1 victory and 5th road kill of the season and 3rd BE road win (Butler, DePaul and now Creighton). X scored 56 2nd half points. Travis did not substitute the 1st 13 minutes of 2nd half going w/ two BIGS (Freemantle and Nunge-PG Scruggs-Colby and Nate). Why not!! That group had outscored Creighton by 25!
In two wins over CU the Zach and Jack Show is plus 46 vs CU. I think that line-up works. Travis predicted a Nate Johnson break out game. Nate scored 15 (12 after halftime). He shot Creighton out of their attempts at zone defense and basically trumped their comeback attempts by answering their made "3s" repeatedly.
I predicted here X would win this w/ a score in the 70s(74-64 Final). I called it the Muskies' sweet spot. I certainly never imagined a 17 point 2nd half rally and a final 4 minute cruise to victory.
The Muskies put their experience and pluck on display. Bottle this second half and uncork it again vs Butler and DePaul next Wednesday and Saturday at Cintas.
That XU #21 NCAA NET may bump up Sunday AM! BEST ROAD COMEBACK WIN I can remember dating back to 1983.