A game that was basically over before it began provided a minimum of drama as Xavier moved to 2-0 on the season. KenPom gave Xavier a 99% chance of winning this one from the word go, and a 17-6 run to open the game basically sealed the deal with more than half an hour left on the clock.
To their credit, Rider didn't entirely fold in the face of the onslaught. The Broncs fought to get to the glass and took advantage of some lax ball security on Xavier's part to keep the game within 10 at the half. The Broncs came out strong, cutting Xavier's lead to 49-44 with just under 18 minutes to play, raising their win probability all the way to... 2%.
And that's really the story of the game. The guys on Rider are excellent basketball players when compared to the general population, but they just don't have the horses to run with Xavier. When they gave the game their last best shot coming out of the half, they gave themselves a 1-in-50 chance of getting over the hump and holding on for the win.
Trevon Bluiett was a big reason why. Much has been made of the continuing evolution of his body, but his release and footwork on his jumper are still silky smooth. He dropped a cool 26/9/3 on 8-14 shooting, running his season's total to 51 points in just 50 minutes played. Not a bad pace if he can keep it up.
The stretch belonged to Xavier's freshmen, who once again looked up for it. Naji Marshall had 5/1/2 and one spectacular finish on a back cut. Elias Harden threw in 17 minutes of play but struggled to find traction.
Paul Scruggs, on the other hand, was borderline dominant. He's just physically imposing in a way that most guards - and all guards at Rider's level - are not. He put up a line of 13/4/1 on 5-9/1-4/2-3 shooting. He flashed solid handle and work around the rim with both hands. Xavier should be able to rely on him to spell Quentin Goodin during meaningful play this year.
And that's pretty much it. JP shot four times and somehow scored 14 points off of it. Tyrique was dominant, dropping a career high 19/8/2 and blocking three shots. He deserves more than a sentence summary, but his dominance in the paint was so complete it was borderline perfunctory. Rider didn't have an answer, and they won't be the last team in that predicament this year.
The season starts on Thursday with the Wisconsin game. Both teams have had a couple of tuneups, now it's time to get down to business.