While Chris Mullin's club put up a spirited effort against the No. 6 Musketeers, ti was ultimately not enough as the Johnnies are still winless in BIG EAST play after their first game in the month of February.
A career-high was posted by St. John's senior guard Felix Balamou. The Guinea native put up 20 points, eclipsing the previous high of 14 he had earlier this season against both Indiana and Fordham. Balamou shot 8-for-12 from the field, 4-for-6 from the free throw line, and grabbed five boards and dished out three assists to boot. Durand Johnson chipped in 18 points while Ron Mvouika and Kassoum Yakwe joined their teammates in double figures with 10 and 14 respectively.
The usual balance from Xavier we're used to showed up on Wednesday night as five players got into double figures while seven of them scored at least eight points. Myles Davis led with 16 while Trevon Bluiett was just a shade behind with 15. Edmond Sumner, James Farr and J.P. Macura added 10, 11 and 12 points respectively to the 82 points scored by the Musketeers against the Johnnies.
Here's what we learned from this matchup:
1. St. John's' first win is steadfast approaching if this type of effort continues
This was St. John's' best performance in a long while as they hung around on the road against the No. 6 team in the country and even held leads at certain points in the second half. They competed very well against a very talented Musketeer club that could be bound for the second weekend and beyond in this year's NCAA Tournament if things pan out well. I have a hunch that we may not be waiting much longer for St. John's to get into the win column if things keep up like this.
2. Free throws were an issue for Xavier
Xavier is typically a very good free throw shooting team. Ranked 32nd in the country in field goal percentage, off nights aren't the norm for Chris Mack's club. Wednesday night, they fell victim to one. The Musketeers shot just 67.5 percent on 40 attempts, almost seven percentage points behind their average of 74.3. Jalen Reynolds was the major victim in Cincinnati Wednesday night as the 66.2 percent free throw shooter shot just 1-for-8 from the line. Things should even out, but Xavier will need to shape this up going forward. They were perhaps helped out by the fact that their opponents shot a meager 61.9 percent from the line on 21 attempts.
3. Trevon Bluiett can struggle and still be a highlight on the stat sheet
The super sophomore for Xavier was off from his usually efficient self against the Johnnies. The Indianapolis native Bluiett shot just 4-for-14 from the field and 2-for-5 from 3-point land. And yet, thanks in part to aggressiveness in getting to the line, he still logged 15 points. And not only that, his impact was felt on the boards as the sophomore forward grabbed 13 rebounds on Wednesday night. The 13 boards are the most he's had since grabbing 16 against Northern Kentucky in November and the first double digit game since his 10 in a loss against Georgetown. So even on an off night, Bluiett can still make an impact which is why he's been so highly regarded this season.