That, my friends, was an old-fashioned zipping up of megalithic proportions. With 14 minutes left, Joshua Smith hit a jumper to cut Xavier's lead to 39-37. From then until the end of the contest, Xavier's defense held Georgetown to a point a minute (ignoring the garbage time layup). During that stretch, X forced the Hoyas into 2-14/0-3/10-15 shooting with 6 turnovers. Despite an unpredictable whistle and a formidable opponent, the Xavier defense locked down when it mattered most and led the team to victoy.
I've been liberal in my feedback for James Farr this year, but there's nothing but good things to say about his play tonight. He finished the game with 9/10/1 and 3 blocks on an impeccable 3-3/1-1/2-2 shooting. The big man was active in the lane on defense and all over the glass at both ends. His defense helped handle Joshua Smith's appetite for buckets in the middle and his early shooting opened things up for Xavier. Just a smart, sharp game from James tonight.
Remy Abell was a little more aggressive on offense tonight, but his defense was a realy key to the game. A cursory review of the stat sheet will reveal that D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera got his, but Abell's defense on him in the second half was a huge part of what Xavier pulled away. When things started sputtering, the Hoyas couldn't just throw it to their best player and let him create. Abell also chipped in 12/0/1 on an uncharateristically profligate 4-9/2-3/2-2 shooting just to round things out.
Speaking of round things, Jalen Reynolds found his way through Joshua Smith's mass to the tune of 17/4/1 on 6-10/0-0/5-6 shooting and only one turnover. Throw in Matt Stainbrook's 8/7/1 with a steal and a block and you can see a pretty clear picture of Xavier's big men dominating in the paint today. Georgetown actually slightly outperformed Xavier on the boards, but they couldn't get consistent scoring inside while the trio of primary big men X ran out there shot 11-17 from the floor and scored 34 points. That's a pretty big statement that X has one of the top front lines in the league.
The end of the game came down to execution, and Xavier had it. The Muskies shot 24-29 (82.8%) from the line and 6-12 (you can do the math on that one) from deep. There were 12 assists on 20 made baskets and the team only turned the ball over 10 times while forcing 16. All in all, it was a good win for Xavier and the kind of performance that might get the pollsters to notice you... but probably not.
Odds and ends:
-Dee had 12/2/5 and managed to curb his appetite for maniacal runs into the lane.
-Trevon Bluiett scored 4 points for the second consecutive game.
-Xavier had 20 points off of Georgetown's 16 turnovers.
-I've got a bad feeling about today's game.
-Farr [starting]? Really?
-Be nice if Georgetown would stay in that zone.
-Is that really James Farr?
-The strategy must be to go small with their big tub of goo out of there.
-Quit dribbling so much; it's slipping away.
-Randolph blocked by half their team.
-Dee is not up to his usual lofty standards.
-We are garbage right now.
-Enough of the 30' hedge!
-Blue has been awful the last two games.
-Officiating has been really inconsistent.
-We have not finished many drives.
-Tic tac call! Unreal; do these guys even know what a foul is?
-Abell is the player of the game.
-What a big win! Great way to start the conference.
That's it from me. The Muskies sit atop the Big East, ready to travel to DePaul on Saturday. Brad will be here in the morning with his narrative recap. Drive sober, Xavier fans, and have a great 2015.