X Breaks the Philly Curse and Knocks Off Nova on the Road
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier put an emphatic stake in their dismal string of 8 Philadelphia Ass Kickings (Chris Mack's label) vs Villanova w/ a sharp shooting 88-80 win over VU Saturday at Finneran Pavilion. Muskies post their 9th "W" in a row, improve to 13-3 overall, book their 4th road win in 4 tries and go 5-0 in BIG EAST-a half game back of Providence. PC just survived at home 83-80 over St Johns. Friars are 6-0 BIG EAST. XU led most of the way-running their flow passing game to perfection(22 assists on 31 made FGs). Muskies created makeable shots trip after trip w/ great ball movement-extra passes-ball reversal-pick and roll action-high-low feeds-and all sorts of BIG to BIG actions (Jack to Zach and visa versa).
Xavier shot 55%FG-47% from "3" and 81% FTs spelling efficiency w/ a capital E. Villanova took 17 more FGAs-many were forced jumpers off the dribble and one on one efforts. XU iced at the FT line-making 17 of 21 FTS in 2nd half after not shooting one freebie before halftime. Nova chased the score w/ full court pressure unsuccessfully.
XU got GREAT production from Zach Freemantle(29 points on 12-17 FG-8-11 FT-11 rebounds-plus 4 assists and 0 turnovers. PG Souley Boum was brilliant(22 points-10 for 10 FTS including 6 for 6 in last 2 minutes-10 boards and 6 assists). Adam Kunkel stepped up(15 points-5 rebounds-3 assists). X had a 39-32 advantage on the glass limiting VU to a ton of one and done possessions.
Nova made 9 "3s" as did XU but Wildcats launched 32 from deep vs just 19 for Muskies. Nova does not gobble up those long misses like they did in years past.
Villanova crept within 4 points late but XU stayed poised-got the rock to Boum and closed out a HUGE road win to exorcise the nasty Philly curse (0-8 vs Nova in Philadelphia since 2014 and BIG EAST entry-a close 1994 NIT Quarterfinal "L" in Pete Gillen's final XU coaching game. Last Xavier win in Philly 1956 or something? I'd predicted Xavier 78-72. Those late FTs padded the margin. Muskies wanted a faster pace of play and got it done. Nova had to keep the score in the 60s to win and failed!
The TOP TIER of BIG EAST looks like this-PC(6-0), Xavier(5-0), Marquette(5-1)-MU clobbered Georgetown Saturday in Milwaukee 95-73. Marquette plays at Xavier next Sat. Jan 14rh, UConn disposed of Creighton 69-60 at home in Storrs Saturday.
Huskies now 15-2 overall-4-2 BIG EAST for 4th place. Creighton is 5th BE(3-2). CU is at Xavier this Wednesday( 7PM Tip-FS1). Villanova sits 6th BIG EAST(2-3) after losing to XU 88-80.
By the way Xavier and PC are now tied for NCAA's 5th longest win streak at 9 games in a row!