After a disappointing 1-2 Feast Week in Maui, the Xavier Musketeers got back in the win column Wednesday night at Cintas Center, as they picked up an 85-52 victory over their in-state foes, the Miami-Ohio Redhawks.
Naji Marshall led the way offensively with 17 points on 7-10 shooting. Marshall set the tone early on, hitting two threes in the first five minutes of the game. The Musketeers would finish the game with just four threes on 19 attempts, but the shooting woes didn’t extend to Marshall.
Tyrique Jones also had another excellent game, recording his second double-double of the season. Jones netted 13 points and also hauled in 13 rebounds.
Unlike many games for Xavier this season, it was the strong defensive effort of the Musketeers which led them to victory. Xavier held Miami under 35% from the field, under 25% from three-point range, and forced 13 turnovers against the Redhawks. Coming into this game, Xavier was the only Big East team ranked outside of the top 100 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency, and while this performance wouldn’t move them all the way into the top 100, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Coming into the game, Nike Sibande was Miami’s leading scorer on the season at 18.8 points per game. Marshall and the Musketeers held him to just eight points on 3-14 shooting.
Xavier was not without its flaws (three-point shooting, in particular) on Wednesday evening, but they went out and played a complete game against a lesser opponent that looks to be one of the better mid-major teams in the nation. With the nonconference schedule ramping up as the calendar turns to December, Wednesday evening should certainly be looked at as as overall positive for Travis Steele and the Musketeers.