Xavier got off to a fast start in this one taking a 12-6 advantage. By the first media timeout, Trevon Bluiett knocked down a pair of triples and Naji Marshall got two strong looks in the lane. The Musketeers continued to rip the net as they converted three consecutive shots going into the under-12 minute timeout. They led 22-11. Bluiett drained two more from beyond the arc and Sean O’Mara battled Angel Delgado in the paint to collect two hard-earned buckets.
The Musketeers faltered a bit heading into the under eight-minute timeout turning the ball over four times in the preceding 3:20. However, they still held a 28-16 advantage over the Pirates. Xavier continued to penetrate the Seton Hall defense and went on an 11-0 run for just over two minutes and 30 seconds before the under-four minute media timeout. By that point, the Musketeers were completely in the driver’s seat with a 19 point lead.
Seton Hall struggled to find an answer offensively and continued to be stuck in a rut in the midst of a 5:56 field goal drought before Xavier called a timeout with 36.4 seconds left to go in the half. The Musketeers took a 45-25 lead into the locker room after a miraculous off-balance three by Quentin Goodin at the buzzer was called off by official review. This marked the third 20-point lead at half this season for the Musketeers.
Xavier held the entire Seton Hall offense in check for the entirety of the first half, holding the Pirates to shooting just 27 percent from the floor and an even more deplorable 18 percent from three-point range.
“When we come out with intensity and play hard, I feel like the game is just fun to us,” Marshall commented about the defensive effort in the first half. “You know, just a lot of threes start going in and we just want to get more and more stops.”
On the flip side, the Musketeers were lights out shooting the ball. They looked like an offensive juggernaut stroking it from all points on the floor. They shot 57 percent overall including going 53 percent from beyond the arc. Of those field goals, just about a third came off assists.
Myles Powell sparked a Seton Hall comeback after converting a Bluiett-esque and one three-pointer. The Pirates got another three from Desi Rodriguez in that time frame. Xavier answered with a couple of triples from Marshall and Bluiett, who was continued to churn out three-pointers. Xavier took a mini 6-0 over 51 seconds into the first media timeout of the second half leading 56-39.
Frustration began to mount for the Pirates who simply had no answer to the sharpshooting of Bluiett. As Naji Marshall stepped to the free throw line to take an and one, Ismael Sonogo was slapped with a technical foul.
Meanwhile, the Musketeers were still cruising maintaining a healthy lead. They were on top 74-57 at the under-12 minute timeout. Seton Hall’s scoring woes seemed to vanish, however, as they cut the Xavier lead to 11 at the under 8-minute mark. Despite this short stretch of time, the Pirates regressed to their first-half ways as they entered a field goal drought that lasted a little over three minutes. That streak was quelled by Powell who promptly knocked down threes in consecutive possessions. This brought the score to 85-76, still in favor of Xavier.
Seton Hall trailed by just six points with 3:41 left to play after Powell came to the rescue once again drilling his fifth three-pointer of the game on a contested look. After a timeout by Xavier with 2:21 left in the game, the Musketeers had a 10-point lead. Off the timeout, Rodriguez buried a three-pointer cutting the deficit to seven. Xavier countered on the next possession as J.P. Macura made a three with the shot clock winding down.
With one minute remaining, the Musketeers simply had to milk to clock to secure the victory. A last-ditch effort by Desi Rodriguez failed as he sent up an airball with less than 30 seconds to go. Two made free throws by Bluiett capped off the win and the Musketeers captured their 12th victory in the Big East.
Bluiett: 37 points, 7 rebounds
Marshall: 20 points, 6 rebounds
Goodin: 10 points, 4 assists
Powell: 30 points
Rodriguez: 20 points, 7 rebounds
Mamukelashvili: 17 points
Carrington: 11 points
Xavier played a stellar first half but stumbled through the second half ceding 65 points to the Pirates. Nonetheless, they came away with a 102-90 victory over Seton Hall and now sit atop the Big East by 1.5 games.
Trevon Bluiett was, as one would expect, spectacular. He put on a clinic from the three-point line hitting 8-12 from long range. While he had a more lackluster game against Creighton on Saturday, he certainly made up for it today with a 37-point scoring outburst.
Better yet, Naji Marshall stepped up and had a fantastic game scoring a career-high 20 points in his young freshman season. He was efficient on the offensive end converting 7-11 from the field.
Xavier had arguably its best first half defensive showing and although that didn’t necessarily carry over to the latter part of the second half, that is the sort of sparkplug the Musketeers need if they want to make a deep run come March.
Seton Hall hasn’t played up to expectations this season but they are still a tough team to handle with four of five starters being well-seasoned seniors.
The win against Seton Hall puts Xavier in a great position come Saturday when Villanova comes into town in a tilt between the league’s two top teams.