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Xavier 82-77 St. John’s: Win marred by Sumner injury

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

After the Battle of Asculum in 279 BC King Pyrrhus of Epirus looked at what was left of his army after a victory over the Romans and said “If we are victorious in one more battle, we shall be utterly ruined.” When Coach Mack surveyed his team after the win in New York, he must have felt much the same way. Xavier Nation waits with bated breath on word from Edmond Sumner’s MRI, but the landing and the way he was helped off the floor didn’t look good. Myles Davis is no longer available as the backup, and the only guards remaining after that are freshman and walk-ons. Xavier may have won, but the damage incurred may hardly be worth it.

This was a win that Xavier desperately needed. After Ed (17/4/7) went down with his injury the Musketeers had six minutes to hold a 12 point lead after once again watching their whip thin friend be carted off the floor. A loss to St. John’s wouldn’t have doomed Xavier’s tournament chances or anything so dire as that, but it would have dealt the Musketeers a serious blow in terms of seeding and confidence. Two minutes later, X led by only two and was in danger of blowing the lead.

Thankfully, Quentin Goodin (16/1/2) is showing himself to be more and more ready for the big time. Goodin had eight points after Sumner’s injury to help steady the team and seal the win. Trevon Bluiett (21/10/1) wasn’t the guy from the UC game, he hardly could be, but he scored four in the final two minutes and helped take some of the ball handling duty off Goodin when St. John’s went to a full court press.

That Xavier had to hang on to a lead rather than simply burying a game was again a testament to their second half struggles on the road. Once again, the Musketeers allowed a 50+ point second half from their opponent as the Red Storm joined UC and Butler in achieving that feat in the last two weeks. That the Red Storm never did lead in this game was a testament both to their own ineptitude and Xavier rededicating themselves to rebounding and closing out possessions late. Just as St. John’s was mounting their final run, Xavier went on their own 8-2 run and allowed just three rebounds in the final four minutes, all of the defensive variety. When it mattered against lesser competition, Xavier grabbed the win.