Xavier 89 Murray State 62 - Boxscore | pic.twitter.com/PSFCL8sTj2— Rick Broering (@musketeerreport) November 25, 2014Don't let the final score fool you: this game wasn't that close.
After letting a relatively small Stephen F. Austin team hang with them on the glass, Xavier came out with purpose in that department and completely owned the boards all night. Xavier grabbed 30 of Murray State's 39 misses and a staggering 26 of their own 40. The whole team was ravenous on the glass at both ends, an Edmond Sumner was the only Musketeer who played and didn't grab more than one rebound. This team can dominate on the glass when the focus is there, and they clearly had a point to make tonight.
James Farr was particularly inspired, getting 6 offensive boards as part of a 10/14/1 line on 5-11/0-2/0-0 shooting. We haven't been shy about questioning James a bit on here early this season, but he remembered tonight that offensive boards lead to easy buckets, and 3 of his made baskets came directly off of offensive boards. His shooting touch still wasn't there tonight, but as long as he's doing dirty work under the boards, he's going to be on the floor.
Prior to being ejecting for coming on the floor to defend JP Macura - actually, let's touch on that. JP Macura didn't have his best night, but he jumped the passing lanes and got a steal and a run out with 8:55 left. Terron Gilmore of Murray State chased him down and knocked him out of the air while making no play on the ball at all. Macura hit the floor hard, and Gilmore was rightly assessed a flagrant foul and ejected. Jalen Reynolds took two big steps from the bench towards Macura's supine form before catching himself, but it was too late. The officials ejected him for leaving the bench, and he walked out throwing the X over his head.
Anyway, Reynolds had 12/11/1 on 6-10/0-1/0-2 shooting with two massive blocked shots and as many gorilla dunks. He was everything Xavier fans have been waiting to see this year, and he could have gone for 20 and 15 if his game hadn't ended prematurely.
Rounding out a dominant triumvarite in the middle was Matt Stainbrook, who put up an almost quiet 19/8/2 with a steal and a block on 8-10/0-0/3-4 shooting. Murray State tried to zone Xavier to take away Stainbrook's one-on-one advantage in the post, but his kickouts got the ball moving for easy baskets all over the floor. Of his eight rebounds, five were on the offensive end. If Xavier had needed it, Stainbrook probably could have had more points. Remarkably, his 8-10 shooting lowers his shooting percentage on the year.
Trevon Bluiett did what he does, shooting a silken 7-12/5-7/0-0 on his way to 19/5/3. You would think eventually there will come a team that forces him to miss more than half his shots and not approach 20 points just for grins and giggles, but that team is going to have to be more competent than the overmatched crew Murray State ran out there tonight.
The fifth of five Muskies in double figures was Dee Davis, who went for 13/2/5 on 4-9/1-4/4-4 shooting with 3 steals and 2 turnovers. A couple of Dee's decisions still left fans scratching their heads but he made Cameron Payne work for his points when he was matched up with Payne and generally got the ball where it needed to be in plenty of time. I mean, Xavier put up 89 against an ostensibly D1 opponent; their point guard was clearly doing more right than wrong.
Odds and ends:
-Edmond Sumner made his debut tonight and dished out 3 assists; he was a little jittery, but that's to be expected
-Xavier had 23 assists on 36 made buckets; ball movement is becoming a thing
-Brandon Randolph had 3 assists and didn't turn the ball over
-Sean O'Mara had 7/4/0 and missed 3 FT, including one that missed the rim
-X was 11-18 from the line, which isn't very good
Brad will be back in the morning with highlights and his narrative recap. Drive safely, Muskie fans.