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Xavier steamrolls Jacksonville in Cincinnati

The Musketeers cruise to a season-opening 76-57 victory.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Tournament-Xavier vs Creighton Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that was not as close as the final score might indicate, Xavier sunk the Jacksonville Dolphins in a 76-57 victory at Cintas Center Tuesday evening. Xavier raced out to a 43-22 lead at halftime, eventually extending their lead to 30 before Jacksonville whittled it down to a more respectable number.

Despite the victory, Xavier did not assuage concerns that last season’s poor shooting would carry over to this season as the Musketeers were just 4-23 (17.4%) from deep and just 14-24 (58.2%) from the free throw line. Xavier made up for it by overwhelming an inferior Jacksonville squad down low and scoring 38 points in the paint. Junior forward Naji Marshall and senior forward Tyrique Jones paced the Musketeers with 17 points each. Jones grabbed 11 rebounds to pick up the 12th double-double of his career.

Defensively, Xavier’s size overpowered the Dolphins who shot just 41.1% from the field and just 23.8% from three. Xavier forced 18 turnovers which turned into 18 points the other way. Jacksonville had little offense outside of senior guard Aamahne Santos and sophomore forward Bryce Workman who each contributed 15 points while shooting 50% or better from the field.

Game Notes

  • In a relatively surprising move, Coach Travis Steele elected to repeat his starting line-up from the exhibition game which included former walk-on Leighton Schrand. The senior wound up playing 17 minutes and contributed one point, one assist, and tw steals.
  • Transfers Jason Carter (r-Jr. from Ohio University) and Bryce Moore (r-Sr. from Western Michigan) both came off the bench in their official Xavier debuts. Carter, recovering from a back injury that kept him out of the scrimmage against Akron and the exhibition against UIndy, was limited to 12 minutes but wound up with 2 points and 4 rebounds. Moore played 19 minutes and finished with 5 points and a steal. Expect Carter’s minutes to grow as he is further recovers from his injury.
  • Two freshman had impressive debuts for the Musketeers. Forward Zach Freemantle scored 11 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in 19 minutes, highlighted by a bid dunk in the second half. Guard Dahmir Bishop had 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists while playing 21 minutes.
  • Unsurprisingly, a trio of freshman did not play. Guard Kyky Tandy is dealing with an ankle injury that will sideline him a few more weeks while forward Daniel Ramsey remains in concussion protocol. Ramsey is expected to redshirt and Steele said after the game that will speak with forward Dieonte Miles about the possibility of him redshirting as well.
  • Extending the three-point line has not been kind to the Musketeers as they are just 10-49 (20.4%) from downtown between the exhibition and the opener.
  • Naji Marshall was given a warning for flopping after a tough layup near the end of the first half. Curbing excessive flopping will be a point-of-emphasis this season and referees have been given the authority to issue technicals for egregious violations.
  • Xavier had the -23.5 spread covered for much of the second half but a 12-0 Jacksonville run once Xavier had extended their lead to 30 helped the Dolphins cover. The o/u of 146 was never really in doubt after the two teams combined for just 30 points in the first ten minutes.

Next up

The Musketeers will welcome the Siena Saints to Cintas on Friday, November 8. The Saints defeated American University 96-80 in their opener Tuesday night. The game will tip-off at 7 p.m. and be televised on FSN.