X Grinds Out Win Over Seton Hall
By Andy Mac Williams, 12/21/2022

Providence coach Ed Cooley was quoted before his Friars edged Seton Hall 71-67 last Sat. in Newark that the best way to beat the Hall was to push the score into the 70s. Ed has some cred(NCAA Coach of the Year 2021-22). I will now believe anything he says! Xavier coach Sean Miller predicted SHU-XU Tuesday at Cintas would be tense and feisty and physical just like the West Virginia win back on Dec. 3rd. He knows his stuff also. Muskies survived against the hard working hustling SHU Pirates 73-70 in a game that came down to the last 3 possessions. XU improves to 10-3 overall w/ 6 straight wins and 2-0 BIG EAST-tied for the very early conference lead with UConn and PC.

Seton Hall brought the sticky banging defense as expected. XU punched back successfully to beat SHU for thr 1st time at Cintas since 2018(4 consecutive losses at home) It was no picnic!

Colby Jones battled thru a case of the flu. He did not practice Monday and threw up at halftime Tuesday. I'd heard Colby was not feeling well. He looked gassed warming up for the 2nd half, but wound up playing 36 minutes(16 points-8 rebounds-6 assists-3 blocked shots and making a vital stop on SH PG Kadary Richmond-forcing a travel violation w/ 6 seconds left-X leading tenuously 71-70 and Richmond driving like a BULL to the bucket.

Colby stayed w/ his man-didn't foul and gave a little ground when Richmond leaned in looking for contact. Colby is trigger man on most Muskie in bounds plays. He waited patiently and got the rock to Adam Kunkel who was fouled w/ 3.7 left. Adam banged in both FTS(X in the super bonus). 73-70 XU.

Seton Hall inbounded. Jamir Harris missed a contested "3" from the right corner. BALL GAME OVER 73-70 Xavier the hard way. Jerome Hunter was MASSIVE for XU off the bench(17 minutes-11 points on 4-5FG,3-4 FTs, 5 rebounds, 2 assist, 2 blocks). Jack Nunge struggled( a touch of the flu?) plus Colby needed some rest so Jerome played SF,PF and Center. In several crucial 2nd half trips he guarded PG Richmond well.

Coach Miller:

"Jerome was GREAT!! Almost player of the game as our 6th man. He played the 3-4 and 5. Did it all. MVP goes to Zach Freemantle (23 points-9 boards-3 assists)."

He's a tough guy from New Jersey and played that way vs the Pirates from Newark. Xavier played w/ poise at winning time. Kunkel struggled(2-9 FG) but canned a late "3" and knocked down 2FTs to put XU up 3 late.

Nunge shot 0-5 FG but made clutch FTs and booked 8 rebounds. X was much stronger on the glass after halftime w/ Jack right in the thick of it. SH was +3 rebounds 1st half and minus 7 2nd half. SHU scrapped well for 50-50 balls but Xavier broke even on blocked shots-won the rebound number and outscored the Pirates at FT line(16-14). SH blanketed XU at the 3 point arc(Muskies just 5-20) but X worked around that and got the ball to the good scoring spots w/ 23 assists on 26 FGs.

PG Souley Boum worked thru foul trouble and plenty of SHU contact and traps for 10 points w/ 7 assists and just 2 turnovers. X won without a flurry of "3s" which is comforting on some level.

Miller's game overview:

"Typical BIG EAST battle-two tough minded teams-making HUGE plays. Richmond is a very unique player. We knew he had 28 vs PC. We did OK against him(17 points-5 assists-5 turnovers). Colby-90% of guys don't play(W/ the Flu). He did and made the biggest play against Richmond-just standing in and forcing that turnover. Colby's a winner and a leader."

Two other BE games on Tuesday night

#2 UConn held off Georgetown in Storrs 84-73. Huskies are now 13-0. G-town led 60-53 w/ 11 minutes left but ran out of gas w/ their short bench. UConn at Xavier Dec 31st at 12 noon.

Providence(10-3, 2-0BE) needed two OTs to beat Marquette 103-98 in Rhode Island. MU led by 9 w/ 7 to play in regulation. UK transfer Bryce Hopkins had a MONSTER game for PC(29 points-23 rebounds).

Muskies are taking a well earned Christmas Break Next game action Wednesday Dec.28 at St Johns(9 PM-FS1). NO MSG. Muskies and Red Storm play at ban box Carneseca Arena in Queens.

Johnnies are at Villanova this Wednesday(Dec 21)(6:30-FS1). St Johns is 11-1, 1-0 BE. It's Nova's BIG EAST Opener at the Pavilion.

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