For the 11th straight year, the Xavier Musketeers are 2-0 to open the season.
Xavier hosted the Evansville Aces Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati, and pulled out a 91-85 victory. The path to the win was an interesting one for the Musketeers, though.
Much like Tuesday’s season opening win against IUPUI, the Musketeers struggled defensively throughout the first half, giving up 45 points and eight threes to their Missouri Valley foes. The flip side was the fact that Xavier scored 49 points of their own, thanks to a debuting Quentin Goodin delivering 14 points in 11 minutes of action. Goodin missed the IUPUI game with a shoulder injury and checked into Saturday’s game after the first media timeout.
Another thing that was apparently early on: Evansville had no answer for Tyrique Jones. The junior big man had eight points and eight rebounds in the first half to go along with three blocks, as he was on his way to a career day.
The teams traded barbs throughout the second half. About five minutes into the period, Goodin was whistled for an offensive foul and subsequently ejected when he pushed the ball into an Evansville player’s head. Take a look.
It wasn’t violent or malicious, but it’s also not something you can get away with. Evansville tied the game at 59 with 15 minutes to go on the resulting free throws, and suddenly Xavier looked to be in a bit of trouble with Goodin out and Naji Marshall hampered by foul trouble.
Enter Tyrique Jones and Paul Scruggs. As if Jones’ first half of eight points and eight rebounds wasn’t enough, he followed up with 11 points and 12 rebounds in the second half, bringing him to a career-high 19 point and 20 rebound day. Scruggs also had a career-high in scoring, picking up 24 points (14 in the second half).
Despite the heroics down the stretch from Jones and Scruggs, Evansville hung in the game thanks to a Xavier opponent-record 17 three pointers. 11 of the 17 came from Evan Kuhlman (4-6), Shea Feehan (4-9), and Marty Hill (3-5). Obviously this is something Xavier will have to work on as the schedule gets tougher, but one thing at a time.
The Musketeers host Wisconsin on Tuesday as part of the Gavitt Games before heading to Maui for the Maui Invitational next weekend.