It was certainly no walk in the park early, but the Xavier Musketeers once again proved themselves to be one of the Big East alpha dogs on Saturday afternoon, thrashing DePaul by a score of 86-65 at Allstate Arena.
After trailing for a good portion of the opening half, the Musketeers used a 23-1 run that carried into the second half to leave the Blue Demons in the dust. Xavier improved to 19-2 overall and 7-2 in the Big East, while DePaul fell to 7-14 and 1-8 in conference play.
Per usual, it was a balanced scoring attack for the X Men, led by Trevon Bluiett's 15 points. Four other Musketeers scored in double digits as well: J.P. Macura and Larry Austin Jr. had 12 apiece, and Jalen Reynolds and Myles Davis chipped in 10 each.
DePaul, who at one point led by seven in the first half, was led by Billy Garrett's 18 points. Tommy Hamilton had 15 points, and Myke Henry and Eli Cain had 10 points.
Here's three things to take away from this afternoon's game:
1. Xavier Never Panicked
Xavier certainly did not expect to start the game in a hole, especially not against one of the Big East's worst teams. However, it never got out of reach for them, and they were able to weather DePaul's early storm before going on their run.
This is a huge testament to not only Chris Mack's coaching ability, but a testament to the collective levelheadedness that the entire Xavier team seems to possess.
They responded in a similar way on Tuesday night after a big Providence run, and this shows that they have the mindset necessary to succeed in tough, do-or-die situations.
2. To Beat Xavier, You Need to Play a Full 40 Minutes
15 minutes of good basketball is not nearly enough to beat the Musketeers. In both of their losses this season, Georgetown and Villanova controlled nearly every aspect of the game for the full 40 minutes, and made sure to slam the door on Xavier when the opportunity presented itself.
DePaul found this out the hard way; their start to the game was as impressive as any stretch that they have had this season, but it just was not enough to beat one of the conference's best teams.
3. Billy Garrett Needs Help
Garrett is probably one of the best players in the Big East that nobody talks about. While Garrett is as talented as they come, he needs to find a reliable outside scorer to help open things up for him.
Tommy Hamilton helped out with three made three pointers, but those were the only three made by the Blue Demons all afternoon.
DePaul can hang tough and win some games as the conference season draws to a close, but Garrett needs some help in order for this to happen.