While elsewhere in the conference St. John’s was losing to Delaware State, Xavier made light work of another fringe top-100 opponent in clubbing North Dakota State like a baby seal at Cintas. Xavier rode a team effort to an 85-55 win that was never in doubt.
Trevon Bluiett set the tone early, scoring or assisting seven of Xavier’s first eleven while the Muskies took a nine-point lead into the first media timeout. The other four of those points were scored by Sean O’Mara (12/5/0), whose size was too much for the Bison in the paint.
Just three days after leaping out to a 30-10 lead against UNI to bury Saturday’s game before it got started, Xavier had a 30-11 margin with 6:11 left in the first half of this one. The Xavier defense - almost exclusively man-to-man tonight - held the Bison to just half a point per possession on their first 22 trips down the floor. By the time that chokehold loosened, the chalk outlines had already been drawn.
At the half, Xavier was totally controlling the middle of the floor. The Muskies had OReb%/DReb% of 52.3%/85% and outscored the Bison 16-10 in the paint. Aside from Geu (6’8”), North Dakota State’s biggest forwards were 6’6”. Xavier had the beating of the Bison in the paint, and they played like they knew it.
The boat race continued in the second half to the point that it’s barely interesting to write about. Xavier got up by 36 at one point before taking its foot off the gas and cruising home. Kaiser got 14 minutes, looked healthy, and jarred two threes. Tim Stainbrook played more minutes than a Stainbrook jersey has seen since Matt was on campus. The walk-ons got in. Nobody got hurt.
Let’s instead wrap back around to Trevon for a minute. He started the game 5-7 from the floor before cooling off for a spell. Just as my Twitter fingers were poised to point that out, he hit threes on back-to-back possessions. He came into the game with an EFG% of 43.3%, which is almost seven points below the national average. Today he shot 8-14/3-8/4-4 (EFG% 67.9%) on his way to 23/5/7. Xavier needs him to be hitting jumpers, and he looked really good in doing so today.
About the only interesting thing for North Dakota State was the coming out party of freshman forward Deng Geu. He had 18/4/0 on 8-12/1-2/1-3 shooting and was far and away the best Bison on the floor all night. His energy and effort were commendable, but by the time he was on the floor and making a difference, Xavier was already up through the gears and running away with the game.
Odds and ends:
- JP didn’t bathe himself in glory, going for 11/5/3 with 3 steals on 3-11/1-5/4-4 shooting.
- Malcolm Bernard was 3-4 from deep and had 10/8/3 with 3 steals and a block.
- Ed only shot four times, but he went for 5/4/7 with 2 steals and no turnovers. That’s a heck of a game for not shooting well or often.
- The game ended with X sporting OReb%/DReb% of 44.1%/77.8%. You’re going to win a lot of games when you dominate the glass like that.
- Xavier had 23 assists on 31 made buckets, only turned the ball over 7 times, and forced 14 Bison turnovers. Good night for the Muskies.