X Falls to No. 6 Golden Eagles in BIG EAST Tournament Finals
Andy Mac Williams,
There's nothing positive to say about Xavier's ugly wire to wire 65-51 loss to Marquette in Saturday's BIG EAST Tournament Championship Game at MSG. Marquette proved emphatically they are the BE team and deserve at least a 3 Seed in NCAA Tournament. Xavier posted 2 wins in NYC (One a needle moving 82-60 pounding of Creighton Friday). Muskies should net an NCAA 4 Seed during the Selection Show Sunday evening-their 1st NCAA invite since 2018. XU's lack of depth might have figured-playing 3 games in 3 days with/ 6 players, but MU just smoked XU from opening tip to final buzzer. Credit Shaka Smart's defense. He likes it feisty and violent. MU guarded the ball with gusto and contested every shot. Muskies let PG Tyler Kolek cruise around almost at will. He played like BE Player of the Year (20 points-8 boards 3 assists.
X fell behind early trailing 12-2 when Sean Miller called time-out just 3:39 in. Xavier limped to the huddle-shooting 1 for 8. Things got steadily worse. Low water mark 33-10 MU with 6:30 left before the half. X was shooting 25%-outworked on the glass 15-9 with no offensive rebounds and 5 turnovers.
Muskies showed some decent effort leading into half time cutting Marquette lead to 39-24 and grabbing some rebounds but there were no silver linings. XU's BIG 3 Colby Jones-Jack Nunge and Souley Boum shot a collective 4 for 16.
Second half - same song, second verse. Xavier showed some energy but missed its 1st 5 shots and quickly fell behind by 27 (54-27) with 8 minutes gone.
Jerome Hunter kept working(10 points-8 rebounds). Adam Kunkel attacked the basket and knocked down some "3s" (14 points). Des Claude looked like he belonged in a BET Title game (11 points-4 rebounds-3 assists).
The whole game reminded me of the 1st half at Butler- a step slow-tired-dispirited. Coach Miller has a few days to rev up the troops now.
Hopefully, NCAA begins for XU Friday in Greensboro or Orlando (Columbus may be a off the board now?) with a 4-13 1st Round game.
Second in the BIG EAST regular season and BET is a BIG improvement from the previous regime. The real Muskies will re-emerge in NCAAs scoring 80 ppg. More coverage after Sunday's bracket reveal.