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In appreciation of Trevon Bluiett

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Trevon Bluiett was awe inspiring last night. Don’t let the outcome of the game cloud that.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Cincinnati
Smile, Tre, you certainly earned it.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

There is plenty negative to be said about last night’s game. You can search pretty much any sports media outlet and read about Xavier being bullied on the glass and allowing 50 second half points. You can click on the home page of this sports media outlet and read exactly how most Xavier fans feel about that. That is the great shame of this game. The loss, and the manner of the loss, has overwhelmed one of the greatest performances in Xavier history.

Trevon Bluiett wasn’t himself coming into the Shootout. He was shooting 32% behind the arc and had, since the turn of the year, been mired in a shooting slump that only showed signs of relenting on Sunday against Georgetown. For the first six and a half minutes against UC, there was no real indication that anything was different. Trevon took a rhythm jumper with 13:32 to play in the half for his first shot. It went, of course, but that shot didn’t somehow augur what was to come.

And what was to come was amazing. 11:41, Trevon for three. 11:10, Trevon for three. 10:31, Trevon gets two from the line. 8:20, Trevon for three. At this point the inklings were there, Tre looked good. 5:41, two more free throws. 4:46, Trevon for three again. 4:01, Trevon for three. 2:06, a dunk, because that’s what Trevon does. :01, Trevon to close the half. That’s 26 points in a 13 minute span to close a half. Amazingly, there isn’t a miss in there. Those are all the shots that Bluiett took in the first half. It was a performance that would be screamed from the front page of everything had Xavier hung on.

The Musketeers didn’t, of course, but Trevon still poured in another 14 in the second half. That sounds like a let down, but a 28 point game would have been Bluiett’s career high. His second half was at a higher clip than he’s scored before. What is amazing here is that Trevon jarred a three with 14:05 to play and didn’t take another shot for nine minutes and 29 seconds. That Xavier didn’t find some way to get the player having the program’s most efficient scoring night ever the ball more is nothing but a black mark on the coaching staff and played a big role in losing the game.

Bluiett ended up with 40/4/1 on 12-15 from the floor and 7-9 from the line. He played 40 official minutes, posted an offensive rating of 143, and grabbed all of his rebounds on the defensive end, where Xavier desperately needed the help. He did that despite a 23% usage rate, lower than both Edmond Sumner, who was not very good, and Quentin Goodin, who was. Again, that he didn’t get the ball more will go down as one of the mysteries of this game.

Bluiett’s performance was the most efficient in college basketball for over two years. It was the first 40 point game from a Xavier since David West did it in a rivalry game (that needs revived) against Dayton back in 2003. In that game West scored 47 and took 26 shots and 19 free throws. In Xavier’s all time high scoring game, Steve Thomas’ 50 against Detroit in 1964, Thomas took 34 field goals. Trevon got his 40 on only 15 shots. That’s a staggeringly low number for such a prolific game and it’s certainly tempting to wonder what would have happened if he had gotten 10 more.

That’s conjecture, though, and what is reality is that Bluiett just played a game that Xavier fans need to recognize for its brilliance. Trevon did something that isn’t likely to happen in college ball again this year and will undoubtedly make headline news the next time it does happen. That his signature moment came in a loss make take some of the shine off it for him, but every fan should count themselves lucky to have seen it.