The month of March has arrived, and madness has ensued. For the Xavier Musketeers, they are simply hitting their stride.
Coming off of a big win on the road against the St. John's Red Storm, the Musketeers knocked off the No. 9 Creighton Bluejays at home by the score of 75-69. The win was Xavier's 20th of the season and as of right now, should firmly put them in The Big Dance.
With such a pivotal game taking place, Xavier was in need of its star players to perform. On Saturday evening, that is exactly what unfolded. Sophomore shooting guard Semaj Christon scored a team-high 21 points helping push the Musketeers over the top against the potent Bluejay offense. Christon was integral on both sides of the floor, contributing to a stellar defensive effort against one of the top offensive teams in the country.
But Christon was not the only Musketeer to stand out on Saturday. Junior forward Justin Martin played outstanding basketball at the Cintas Center in front of a standing room only crowd in Cincinnati. Martin, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., recorded his first double-double of the season as he went on to score 19 points and dominated on the glass, grabbing a game-high 16 rebounds.
Those 16 rebounds for Martin help push Xavier over Creighton in the rebounding department, outpacing them 34-32, and especially so on the defensive end, to the tune of 26-21.
Creighton's Doug McDermott was his usual, outstanding self on Saturday. The senior forward recorded a double-double of his own, scoring 27 and collecting 10 boards, but as a whole there was a lot left to be desired from the Bluejay performance.
The rest of the Bluejays combined for just 42 points, with no other scorer hitting double figures. The team shot just 39.0 percent from the field, and an abysmal 29.4 percent from the perimeter. Xavier certainly knew how to handle one of the best perimeter shooting teams in the country, flashing tremendous defense from the opening tip onward.
This was simply a dominating performance for Xavier. The Musketeers were able to hold one of the best offenses in the country to a lackluster effort from the field, and rarely were challenged. Throughout the course of the game, just three times did the lead change, and only once was there a tie-score in the 40 minutes of action at the Cintas Center.
Xavier now looks to continue their run toward the NCAA Tournament when they travel to Newark, N.J. to take on Seton Hall on Monday, before turning around and hosting highly touted Villanova on Thursday in their season finale. Creighton, meanwhile, looks to recuperate with a road game against Georgetown coming on Tuesday, before their season finale against Providence next Saturday.