With perhaps one eye focused on the Crosstown Shootout Saturday, Xavier did enough to win 84-71 against the Green Bay Phoenix Wednesday night at Cintas Center.
While it wasn’t pretty, the game was never really in doubt after Xavier held only 38-35 halftime advantage. After a quick 9-2 run to open the second half, the Musketeers spent much of the latter quarter of the game with at least a ten-point advantage. The Musketeers’ largest lead was a 15 advantage secured a couple of times in the final minutes.
Even if it was a relatively comfortable win for the Musketeers, it was not pretty. Xavier’s 84 points were its second-highest total this season but the tally was a product of a fast-pace rather than an efficient offense. The Musketeers have been one of the worst shooting teams in the country and they shot even worse tonight going just 29-69 (42%) from the field and 8-33 (24.2%) from deep. That’s particularly concerning considering the Musketeers were facing Kenpom’s 341st-defense.
There were a few bright spots for Xavier when the ball was on the offensive end of the court. Turnovers had been a problem all season, but the Musketeers only committed 10 against the Phoenix. Xavier also used its size on the offensive glass, grabbing 18 offensive rebounds which led to 29 second-chance points.
The Musketeers were solid again defensively. The Phoenix were one of the top-50 best shooting teams in D1 entering the game but were held to 26-67 (38.8%) from the floor and 7-25 (28%) from deep. Despite the poor shooting effort, Xavier tallied only four kills (three consecutive stops) which was three shy of Travis Steele’s target. Part of that was due to the 14 offensive rebounds Xavier gave up to a small team that had struggled to rebound all season.
Naji Marshall led Xavier with a season-high 24 points while Paul Scruggs, Quentin Goodin, and Tyrique Jones each contributed 14. Jones also grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the year.
Freshman guard Kyky Tandy scored 10 points off-the-bench in his second game as a Musketeer. He left the game after taking some friendly-fire to the mouth from Naji Marshall after a tough layup with about nine minutes. Despite a tooth going through his lip, Xavier coach Travis Steele said he should ready to go Saturday against Cincinnati.
Freshman guard, and Trotwood, Ohio native, Amari Davis again led the Phoenix with 19 points. Senior guard Jayquan McCloud scored 15 and grabbed 11 boards for his first career double-double.
Next up for Xavier is the Crosstown Shootout against Cincinnati this Saturday at Cintas Center. The Bearcats are 6-2 and coming off of an 82-73 victory over Vermont Tuesday evening.