One of the prevailing themes in the Big East’s nonconference schedule this season has been the dynamic scorers on opposing teams. Georgetown faced the nation’s top scorer last week in Campbell’s Chris Clemons, Butler host second-leading scorer, Detroit’s Antoine Davis earlier in the season, the list goes on and on.
Saturday, it was Xavier’s turn. The Musketeers hosted the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, led by Xavier Hill-Mais, the 12th-leading scorer in the nation at 24.6 points per game. With how shaky the Musketeers have been defensively this season, it was worth wondering how they would be able to contain Hill-Mais.
The answer? They couldn’t — until they could. Hill-Mais had 22 of his 30 points in the first half of Xavier’s 73-63 victory over Oakland at Cintas Center, and kept the Golden Grizzlies in the game.
What changed at halftime? Xavier’s defensive plan, according to Tyrique Jones.
Tyrique said the decision to go from X's typical 3/4 fronting defense in the post to a full front made guarding Hill-Mais without fouling much easier.— Xavier 247 (@musketeerreport) December 1, 2018
Hill-Mais had just eight points in the second half and attempted just six shots.
The other big story for the Musketeers was their balanced offensive attack. Six players had 10+ points with Naji Marshall leading the way with 14. Tyrique Jones recorded another double-double (his third of the year), with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Paul Scruggs all-around effort of 10 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals before fouling out made him one of the biggest keys to the victory.
Xavier (5-3) now sets their sights on the Ohio Bobcats Wednesday night before heading across town to Cincinnati next weekend.