The Thomas More College Saints have many goals this season, many of which are realistically within their reach. Getting over the hump and into the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament and defending their Presidential Athletic Conference Tournamnt title paramount among them. They chose to challenge themselves in exhibition with trips to Rupp Arena and Cintas Center to tune up for the season. A 42 point loss to UK was to be expected and today's trip to Xavier went much to expectation again. On a day when fellow Big East member Marquette outlasted lowly Lindenwood by 2, X came out and took care of business in reassuring fashion.
Even with the absence of Trevon Bluiett to a shoulder injury, Xavier's advantage was obvious early. A free scoring first half saw 9 Musketeers get on the board, with JP Macura leading the way with 10. Kerem Kanter added 5 points and 6 boads of his own and Tyrique Jones and Sean O'Mara similarly had their way down low. Kaiser Gates came out ready to rain threes and Quentin Goodin and Elias Harden both splashed their own from the corners, helping X dominate the first 20 minutes to the tune of a 44-17 lead.
The second half saw the onslaught let up a bit, with the rotation expanding to include the walkons. Naji Marshall distinguished himself especially in the second frame, finishing with 16/9/2 and being the only newcomer joining Macura and Gates in double figures. Paul Scruggs' shot was not falling today, going just 2-7, but he dished out 6 assists to only 1 turnover and grabbed a steal as well as Xavier closed out the victory by a final of 78-38.
Overall, there is just not a ton to be gleaned from a 40 point thrashing of a D III opponent, but there were definitely moments when Xavier looked sharp today, namely when they drained threes on three straight first half posessions. The guys who were good might not maintain that level and the few who weren't will probably look better in the regular season. What is important is that Xavier basketball is back, and that should put a smile on your face no matter the competition.