1) Matt Stainbrook did just enough
Stainbrook had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Xavier. The senior did most of his damage in the first half and really kept Joshua Smith as well as Mikael Hopkins at bay throughout the game. Stainbrook clearly won the matchups down low for most of the contest and had one of his most impressive performances on the season.
Remy Abell added 10 points and freshman Trevon Blueitt hit a big three pointer in the middle of the massive second half run that helped the Musketeers to hold on.
2) Big run at end of the first half was huge to build lead
When Smith picked up his second foul, it gave the Musketeer offense a huge lift inside. Stainbrook and Reynolds were able to make plays in the interior and took advantage of the smaller frontcourt players like Hopkins for Georgetown. The one-three-one defense made a huge impact as far as stopping the Hoya offense during the 24-7 run to finish the half.
Hoya coach John Thompson III said of figuring out the zone, "It was open in the first half, we did a poor job of not getting to him." As in freshman Isaac Copeland who was able to make some big shots during the comeback and finished with 15 points.
Stainbrook’s tip-in at the buzzer to finish the first half gave Xavier all of the momentum in the world as they built a 20-point lead in the second half.
3) Technical foul on Reynolds led to the furious Hoya comeback that came up just short.
Reynolds and Jabril Trawick got into a scuffle at the end of a play midway through the second half. It spurned on Georgetown. They would go on a 14-1 run and in the final seconds cut the Musketeer lead to one, but the Xavier strategy to foul with a three-point lead ended up being a huge difference in the win. Mack told us that they had bad experiences in the past when they did not foul and this time when they did foul up by three points on two occasions it worked out for the Musketeers.
Xavier head coach Chris Mack said of the comeback, "Georgetown solved our zone. Tonight we did not do even close to what we are capable of (at the free throw line)." Mack added, "It certainly changed the game. I did not have the luxury to see the monitor. I felt like that a (double technical) could have been the appropriate call."
"I’ve only been involved in one other game like that. I felt like it could have gone to overtime," Coach Mack said, "If we played three more minutes we could have lost by 17."
Now the Musketeers move to face Villanova in the Big East title game as they look to snap their two-game losing streak against them this season.
Villanova and Xavier for the Big East crown will be a fun way to end the tournament. Enjoy it folks!