Xavier etched a tally in the win column with their 81-72 victory over the Miami (OH)) RedHawks on Friday night at the Cintas Center in the first game of the 2015-16 college basketball season.
The Musketeers, off the heels of a runner up performance in the BIG EAST Conference Tournament, and a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the NCAA Tournament, began their push with this victory over their in-state adversaries to the north.
X got great contributions from sophomore Trevon Bluiett and junior big man Jalen Reynolds who scored a combined 26 points on Friday evening. The leading scorer for Xavier was Edmond Sumner, whose 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting led the way in Sumner's first career start as a member of the Musketeers. J.P. Macura complemented the three aforementioned starters with 17 points off the bench, with an impeccable performance from the free throw line, sinking all seven of his opportunities.
Here's what we learned from this matchup.
1. Offensively, X might hit a few cold spells.
Alright, so yes: Overreacting might be unsavory. However, it was tough to ignore the fact that Xavier went 7:10 without scoring in the second half as Miami (OH) chipped away and rallied to make their deficit three points at the 9:28 mark when sophomore forward Rod Mills plopped in two free throws. It did not matter who it was - Remy Abell, Edmond Sumner, Kaiser Gates, Myles Davis, or Jalen Reynolds - they all missed their buckets and were not very efficient against a RedHawks team that has not proven to be very stout defensively in recent years. It's the first game of the season though. So the kinks will likely work themselves out when all is done and dusted.
2. Has X found their point guard? Friday night was a good start.
All summer, the question was pondered: "Who is Xavier's point guard?" The departure of Dee Davis gave way to a triple threat match of sorts between Myles Davis, Larry Austin Jr. and Edmond Sumner for the right to run point for the Musketeers this season. Head coach Chris Mack decided to give the nod to Sumner on Friday evening, and The Motor City native took it and ran. Sumner tallied 19 points, an assist, a steal, two rebounds, and shot 66.7 percent from the field and 60 percent from the free throw line. Should Sumner control the tempo from here on out, X's point guard 'problem' may slowly but surely evaporate.
3. This just in: Jalen Reynolds is really good.
The sun will rise in the east on Saturday, water is wet, the sky is blue and grass is green... Tell us more. Jalen Reynolds dominated the RedHawks with a 16-point, 15-rebound, 3-assist and 4-steal performance that saw him shoot above 50 percent - 5-of-9 from the field - and was even better at the line, banking in on 6-of-7 free throw attempts. You'd like to see less turnovers as Reynolds committed six of them on the night. But still, you take the cons with the pros, and the fact is that there were a lot more positives than negatives for the Xavier center on Friday night.