What was the best you dared hope for from this game? Florida State came in all pace and power, the Dallas Carter to Xavier’s Odessa Permian, right down to Edmond “Boobie Miles” Sumner being felled by a knee injury. The NBA on TNT staff explained to me that Xavier probably didn’t have a chance today. Brad sat on the couch next to me giving himself a nice pregame ulcer about how he hoped this didn’t turn into a boat race.
It did. It wasn’t the one he was worried about.
Xavier got out to a hot start, with Coach Mack employing a variety of zone defenses to keep the Seminoles off balance. Full-time center and part-time lumberjack Sean O’Mara went right at the vaunted Florida State shotblockers, leading the team with 9 points at the half as Xavier carried a 10-point lead into the break.
Then there was the second half and the Florida State run that never came. The Seminoles never got back within touching distance of the Musketeers. Every time they started to close, Xavier’s blistering three-point shooting - 11-16 as a team, led by a scalding 4-5 from Kaiser Gates - had the answer. By the time JP was back on the bench with cold compresses on his neck, the only question left was that of the final score.
Coach Mack is a genius
A list of defenses I saw Xavier run today: man, 1-3-1, 2-3, 2-1-2, 1-1-3. Florida State, up to its armpits in big athletes and big time recruits, couldn’t do anything against them. Every time they tried to shift the balance of the game, Coach Mack had a counter ready for Xavier. With about 45 hours of prep time between the end of one game and the beginning of the next, Mack had Xavier’s game plan tuned up and ready to roll.
Trevon Bluiett is the king
There was question of whether or not Xavier’s star guard could put together a complete game on his bad ankle. A 29/6/3 line on 8-14/3-5/10-14 later, there isn’t anymore. Trevon had the rich boy swagger going in full effect; he knew Florida State couldn’t guard him, and he made sure they knew it, too. His blistering footwork and blink-of-the-eye release stood him in good stead against the length and athleticism of FSU. If he were white, the media would be all over him.
Xavier’s freshmen aren’t scared
Q shot a mere 2-8/1-1/1-3 (and the three was banked from straight on), but he controlled the game to the tune of 6/1/6 with just 2 turnovers despite having defenders trying to harry him into turnovers for the entire game. He has his ups and downs, but he’s a steady hand at the till when Xavier’s offense needs initiated.
Tyrique Jones is just a dog. You knew he wouldn’t be cowed by Michael Ojo (or anyone else), but he started the game with a bucket, threw down a couple of monster jams, and busted out his signature mean mug just in case anyone wondered who the bully in the paint was.
Holy cow. On to the next one.