There are no must win games in college basketball in the month of November. That being said, coming off a blowout loss to an unranked opponent and with the Crosstown Shootout looming this week, Xavier came into tonight knowing that they could really use this win. Answering the bell, they grabbed the lead early and, unlike on Friday, never let Baylor take back the lead on their way to a victory that is sure to matter come Selection Sunday.
Plan B showed up tonight
Less than a week ago, someone on THIS VERY WEBSITE was bemoaning Xavier’s lack of a backup plan for nights when Trevon Bluiett was not at his best during crunch time (don’t bother looking it up, it was me). Tonight with 5 minutes left, Xavier was up 6 and Bluiett and Macura were done scoring for the night. From there Kerem Kanter, Quentin Goodin, and Kaiser Gates carried Xavier across the line in what proved to be comfortable fashion, without the scoring services of Xavier’s pair of talismanic Seniors. For this team to reach their best, the whole cast needs to play a part and these three did tonight.
Q is an asset, not a liability
Sure he caught nothing but glass with his pair of three point attempts tonight, but he ended the night with 6/2/9 with no turnovers and hassled Manu Lecomte into 11 points on 4-13 from the floor and 0 assists. Goodin’s shooting lines this year haven’t made anyone forget about Ed Sumner, but he was tremendous tonight making decisions with the ball and was key for Xavier’s offense, especially after half time. He may never fill it up like Chalmers, Holloway, or Sumner did, but he still played a heck of a ballgame tonight without doing so.
Xavier enters the Shootout on a high
No matter where a season takes them, the one game Xavier wants to be entering at their best is the Crosstown Shootout. Baylor is the best opponent either team has played this season (by far) and Xavier handled them on the very same floor that will host the rivalry game come Saturday. The Arizona State debacle has been resoundingly put to bed, and Xavier fans can look forward to UC coming to Cintas with excitement rather than trepidation.