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Xavier 64-45 Alabama: Recap

Xavier put it together in the second half to take care of business in a holiday tournament. Wait, what?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier fans could probably be forgiven for dreading Thanksgivng coming around on the calender, due mostly to Xavier's recent history of struggling mightily in Thanksgiving tournaments. Against a frankly uninspiring Alabama team, Xavier was able to record a sizable victory which continued to fuel hopes that this may be a special Xavier squad. A dominant stretch in the second half put this one away in time for plenty of turkey and pie to go around.

Xavier's early performance gave no indication that the Thanksgiving related agony was going to end any time soon, with the start of the first half being plagued by settling for jumpers, lethargic offensive movement, and Alabama having run of the boards on both ends. In fact, by the time Trevon Bluiett, once again one of Xavier's best performers, finally scored the Musketeers first field goal, over 6 minutes had passed and even an incredibly slow starting Alabama team was in front 9-4.

Xavier would go on a 14-4 run over the next 8+ minutes of agonizingly poor offensive basketball, with JP Macura providing 7 of the points and the only real spark to illuminate an other dismal display by Xavier. It was not that the teams slowed the pace, it was simply a total lack of execution by both teams as the half featured as many turnovers (17) as made field goals. With Xavier finally in the lead, Shannon Hale hit a three with 5 minutes left in the half that finally brought even the slightest bit of liveliness to proceedings, resulting in a 12-3 responding run by Xavier, once again snapped by a Hale three, and a three point lead for the Muskies at the break.

Basically every offensive number you could look at was bad for the first half, with the teams combining for a 17-59/5-27/12-21 shooting line to go with 17 turnovers and 18 fouls. Clearly two groups of kids used to night games in packed campus facilities were taking their time to warm to the noon start in a mostly abandoned gym, but whoever could land a big punch in the second half had to feel like their opponent wasn't likely to have a response.

Xavier wound up at half time and spent the next quarter of the game delivering a haymaker that would leave Bama down and out. Trevon Bluiett and Myles Davis each drilled a pair of threes each as Xavier took control with a devastating 24-6 run over the first 11 minutes of the half. The shots finally started falling as Xavier began to attack and dish out from the middle, and Jalen Reynolds scored 9 in the half as Alabama struggled to control Xavier's weapons.

While Alabama continued to flounder through emplty posession after empty posession, Xavier finally shook the shackles off and put the game away, outscoring the Tide 33-13 over the course of the first 17 minutes. Only the 11 second half turnovers and still poor 4-6 showing from the line kept the throttle in check for Xavier, but a dominant second half saw them through to the Semifinal of the Advocare Invitational and a chance to put their Thanksgiving hex behind them.