Xavier played on Wednesday night at the Cintas Center, hosting the Central Michigan Chippewas.
This game was a Musketeers domination from start to finish. Xavier opened up the game on a 21-3 run led by 10 points from Nate Johnson. The 6’4” sharpshooter out of Miami had ended this one with a team and game high of 24 points. This was right after a career high 30 point performance in Brooklyn against Virginia Tech. In the last 4 games, Xavier is 3-0 when Johnson scores 20+ points and 0-1 when Johnson fails to reach the 20 point mark. After a slow start to the season, Nate Johnson has really turned it up recently and given the Musketeers a high scoring threat on a nightly basis.
With all good comes bad, and in this scenario the bad for Xavier has been senior guard Paul Scruggs. Although Scruggs is top 25 in scoring in program history, he has yet to score double digits since the third game of the season. In this game, Scruggs finished with a mere six points and one rebound. Despite there being obvious negatives, a positive that has come out of this slump has been the senior’s passing. Coming off of a season averaging a career high 5.7 assists per game, Scruggs has looked to continue dishing the ball out averaging 5.5 assists per game in Xavier’s last two games.
Picking up Scruggs’ slack so far this season has been sophomore standout Colby Jones. Jones is a rising star in the Big East and has been able to do everything for Travis Steele and the Musketeers. The 6’6” guard finished last night with nine points on an efficient 3-4 shooting, six rebounds, seven assists, and 3 steals. He is averaging 12.6 ppg on 48.6% shooting, 10.0 rpg, and 2.6 apg. I think that by the time this season is over, Jones will be one of the top players in the Big East and will definitely make an all-conference team.
Central Michigan’s scoring woes were blatant last night in Cincinnati. The Chippewas only put up 45 points, having one player score double digits. That player was Oscar Lopez Jr. who was formerly in the Big East before transferring to CMU this year. After averaging 8.8 ppg for DePaul, the junior’s ppg average this season has dipped down a couple points. Lopez Jr. had 11 points and was the only Chippewa that looked somewhat competent on offense. Along with 11 points, the 6’4” guard had six rebounds.
Side Note: Great sign for Xavier as their leading scorer from last year Zach Freemantle made his debut. Freemantle had been sidelined for the first six games of the season due to a left foot injury.
Xavier showed in this game that they can shoot the ball very well, going 27/53 (50.9%) from the field and 12/26 (46.2%) from three. The Musketeers also proved that they can get and maintain an early lead. Xavier would end the game with a dominant 78-45 win. The Musketeers’ great statistics last night will be challenged on Sunday as the now 6-1 Xavier Musketeers travel to Gallagher-Iba Arena to face the 6-2 Oklahoma State Cowboys. Dropping to now 1-6, Central Michigan looks to bounce back as they return home to McGuirk Arena to play the 6-2 Western Illinois Leathernecks.