What happened: Xavier 81 - Miami (OH) 72
Jalen Reynolds is the story of this game. I guess that preseason was just his lulling people into complacency, because he exploded for 16/15/3 on 5-9/0-1/6-7 shooting with 4 steals in 30 minutes on the floor. Seven of his fifteen boards were on the offensive end. The only blemish on his line was 6 turnovers, a couple of which can easily be attributed to being a little overexcited for the season opener. He also picked up a technical foul for a gentle shove on an opponent after a play, which is not a great tone to set to open the year.
Speaking of stories, how about Edmond Sumner? On his full debut, he went for a cool 19/2/1 on 6-9/1-1/6-10 shooting. He had three turnovers but got 25 minutes of playing time and unquestionably made Xavier a more dangerous team while he was on the floor. There were some freshman moments when he got a little ahead of himself and you wouldn't mind seeing more assists, but this is as well as a Muskies freshman has debuted in a while.
Dunk contest winner JP Macura was the team's second-leading scorer thanks to his 17/4/1 on 4-9/2-4/7-7 shooting and no turnovers. He was everything we've come to hope for from Good JP; he was relentlessly attacking on offense and put the Miami defense on its heels. He was also all over the 1-3-1, getting his hands into passing lanes and making RedHawks toss the ball over him instead of making incisive passes.
Speaking of the 1-3-1, I think it's going to be a huge key for Xavier this year. The Musketeers were not good in man defense, and they played that set largely in the first half in giving up 40 points. The second half featured more zone, and Xavier held Miami to 22 points in the first 19 minutes of the second half to put the game on ice. Miami scored 10 in the final minute plus, but the game was dead and buried at that point.
Trevon Bluiett was the only other Muskie in double digits, shooting 4-9/2-5/0-0 on his way to 10/6/3 with a steal and a turnover; he also fouled out, which isn't brilliant. Trevon never really forced his way into the game, which is either a display of maturity and patience or too much passivity from a man that Xavier is going to want to lead the line. Which it was depends on your perspective, I suppose.
It's too early to be worried about someone getting squeezed out, but your friend and mine Larry Austin, Jr played only 11 minutes and was only saved from a trillion by his 2 fouls. I really like Larry; I want to believe that he's going to be a big part of what Xavier does this year.
Odds and ends:
-Xavier crushed the glass to the tune of a 42-25 advantage on the boards.
-Kaiser Gates wasn't afraid of the moment on his debut, though maybe a little discretion would have helped his 0-4/0-3/4-6 shooting line; his 4/4/0 is a respectable first line.
-Myles and Remy combined for 11/3/6 on 3-12/2-7/3-4 shooting in 43 minutes.
-There were 52 fouls called in 40 minutes today, or one every 46 seconds. You can imagine what that did for game flow.
-Xavier had a TO% of 21.1%, which is a little higher than you'd like to see; Xavier's 15 assists on 24 made buckets is good for a 62.5% assist rate.
That's it from me. Bryan has the narrative recap, and we'll be back around tonight with highlights and press conferences as they come available.