What happened: Xavier 90 - Marquette 72
We talked a lot about Xavier's defense over the past couple of days, and it came to play today. Marquette got 1.01 points per possession today, but up until Xavier let them throw in 5 points in their last 2 possessions, the Muskies had held them under a point per possession. Marquette shot .381/.167/.875 on the game, and only those 21 points from the line spared their blushes at all on offense. The Muskies came out to make a statement today, and they did from the opening four minutes (an 11-2 Xavier run) all the way through the final horn.
Speaking of making statements, Trevon Bluiett seems to relish going up against Henry Ellenson in front of the NBA scouts that come to see the Marquette freshman play. He dropped 41 total points in their first two meetings and bettered that tonight, throwing up 24/6/1 on 9-14/5-8/1-3 shooting. He split his scoring evenly between halves; as Marquette's composure failed them, Tre kept twisting the knife and letting them know about it.
It wasn't just the Trevon Bluiett show though; five Musketeers were in double figures on the night. According to a tweet for Tom Eiser, Xavier moved to 21-0 on the year in games in which at least 4 Muskies score at least 10 points. The undefeated record isn't as impressive to me as the fact that Xavier has had four players in double figures in 21 of the year's 31 games.
One of those was freshman sensation Edmond Sumner. He snuck in with 10 points, but added 4 boards and 7 assists to just 1 turnover and shot 4-8/0-2/2-2. That's the kind of game you'd be happy to see from a senior floor general like Drew Lavender; to get it from a freshman in his first conference tournament game speaks to how special Sumner is.
One guy who didn't get into double figures was Myles. He pulled the strings for an almost laughably smooth 8/6/5 on 3-6/2-5/0-0 shooting. Six-eleven consensus lottery pick Henry Ellenson had 3 rebounds. Myles Davis had 6. He also didn't turn the ball over, blocked a shot, and probably provided the orange slices for halftime, because he does whatever needs done, often before anyone else recognizes the need.
Jalmesean (jall-MUH-shawn) O'Farrnolds crushed Marquette's bigs in the paint today, dropping 29 and 13 on 13-22/0-0/3-5 shooting and just 4 turnovers. It's kind of cheating to throw O'Mara in there as well, but it just serves to illustrate how effective Xavier's traditional big men were today even in a game that increasingly turning to pace and space.
You can't talk about the Muskies without talking about Big East Sixth Man of the Year JP Macura. He put up a game line of 12/3/2 came on 4-8/3-5/1-2 shooting. He had 9 points in the first half, perhaps none more notable than his three on the last possession of the period. The action that Coach Mack had called for broke down - according to Macura postgame; he may have just wanted the shot - so he calmly walked the ball to the middle of the floor, got his footwork right, and caught bottoms from "Crawford's gotta hurry!" range.
I like to think that was the moment that Marquette knew they were beaten. It was definitely the moment Xavier fans were ready to let out just a little bit of the tension that comes with postseason play. As Macura backpedaled out of frame, Xavier had already run away from the Golden Eagles and into the semifinals.
Odds and ends:
- Xavier had 20 assists on 35 made buckets and only 9 turnovers; that's how you control the ball.
- Xavier scored 1.268 points per possession and got some sort of return on nearly 60% of their trips down the floor.
- 34 bench points, 42 points in the paint; all in a day's work for Xavier.
- Seton Hall and Creighton are playing right now; the Muskies will take on the winner at 9pm tomorrow on FS1