No. 8 Duke Too Much For Muskies in Phil Knight Legacy
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier showed repeatedly resilience, but could never quite climb the score mountain and take control losing 71-64 to Top 10 Duke Friday in Semi-Finals of Phil Knight Legacy Tourney in Portland. Muskies (4-2) play Top 10 Gonzaga Sunday (7:30 PM EST-ESPN) for 3rd place. A win would give XU it's 1st "W" over the Zags since 1961(1-4 overall w/ two NCAA defeats in 2006 and 2017 Elite 8) plus two NET(NCAA Evaluation Tool) Quad 1 victories(Florida and Gonzaga) in 4 days out West. Xavier scrapped well with Duke early but shot it poorly (2-13 FG) trailing 16-9 9 minutes in. Zach Freemantle got into early foul trouble scrambling the rotation. Jack Nunge struggled all game vs Duke's length (1-13 FG-just 5 points averaging 16PPg). The Zach and Jack show underachieved for the 1st time this season.
X led briefly 25-21 w/ 7 minutes left but Duke quickly reeled the Muskies in as they did all game. X trailed 40-34 at the half then started slowly in half #2 (like vs Indiana). Duke sprinted to a 49-36 lead after just 2 minutes.
X kept bouncing back-cutting the Duke lead to 3 points several times but big stops and big shots eluded XU. Duke dominated the final 5 minutes and cruised to 71-64 win. 15 turnovers killed Muskies along with anemic 13 for 35 shooting from "2". Lack of depth figured again. Duke's bench outscored XU's 20-10.
Muskie Frosh G Des Claude faired well though (5 points-4 rebounds in 24 strong minutes vs top competition). KyKy Tandy struggled (1-5 FG in 18 minutes).
Duke veteran PG Jeremy Roach buried XU(career high 21 points-5 assists-just 1 turnover. He steadied their Frosh and X had no answer. Duke's physical "D" disrupted Xavier's passing game.
Souley Boum (23 points) and 7-17 3-point shooting gave XU a chance. Adam Kunkel played ultra hard (12 points in 17 minutes) with determined drives and extra effort along w/ ever solid Colby Jones (10 points-7 boards-4 assists) in 39 minutes playing on a sore ankle. Not enough bullets vs Duke.
Xavier gets Saturday to rest and prep for Gonzaga. The Zags were ripped by Purdue 84-66 late Friday (outrebounded and ripped defensively). GU is 4-2 (wins over Michigan State on the aircraft carrier and Kentucky in a blow-out 88-72). Zags lost at Texas and then Purdue.
KenPom picks Gonzaga by 6. X makes it a blockbuster trip to Portland with an upset win booking two NET Quad 1 scalps out West. Should be a WAR!!