The final score of 67-59 made a wire-to-wire rout seem much closer than it really was. Needing a solid win heading into Big East play, Xavier played its best game of the season to wrap up an 8-2 win for the Big East in the inaugural Big East-Big 12 Battle.
The Musketeers started fast and had built their first double-digit lead just six minutes into the game. TCU would cut Xavier’s lead to seven at one point in the first half but the Musketeers led 38-27 at halftime. A quick 8-0 Musketeer run extended their lead to 19 and Xavier led by more than double-digits until RJ Nembhardt hit a couple of free throws to cut Xavier’s lead to nine with 33 seconds left. Xavier and TCU traded free throws and a deep Horned Frog three to arrive at the final score. Xavier’s largest lead was 22 with about seven minutes left.
Xavier had perhaps its best shooting performance of the season, going 27-51 (52.9%) from the floor and 7-15 (46.7%) from deep which overshadowed the Musketeers’ 21 turnovers. Defensively, Xavier held TCU to 19-58 (32.8%) from the field and 7-23 (30.4%) from deep.
Senior forward Tyrique Jones was the star, scoring 18 points and grabbing 14 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. Junior guard Paul Scruggs chipped in 10 points, while senior guard Quentin Goodin dished out a season-high 11 assists. Xavier got bench contributions from freshmen Zach Freemantle and Kyky Tandy who scored 9 and 8 points, respectively.
The Musketeers kept star Desmond Bane in check, he wound up with 14 points but it took 16 shots to get there. Center Kevin Samuel also had 14 points, both he and Bane registered double-doubles with 11 and 10 boards, respectively.
Xavier will return to the court at Villanova on Dec. 30. The Wildcats beat No. 1 Kansas 56-55 Saturday as part of the Big East-Big 12 Battle.