Backs to the wall, 38 seconds to save a season, win or risk going home. These are the games we’ve become accustomed to Xavier winning by hook or crook. Tonight, once again, they did. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t the kind of basketball that inspires soliloquies, but it was a win. Not only was it a win, it was THE win. Xavier needed to beat a top 10 RPI team to lock up their bid to the NCAA tournament, and they just came out and did it.
No quit and great defense
Xavier turned the ball over on seven of eight possessions and surrendered second half run of 15-4 but they slowly, inexorably, dragged themselves back into the game. The rebounding effort never wavered but, more importantly, after allowing Butler to score 58 and 50 points in the second halves of the last two games, they held the Bulldogs to only 57 tonight. Part of that was due to an intentional slowing of the pace, but part of it was due to great defensive intensity that held Butler to a shooting line of .419/.211/.688.
Trevon Bluiett won’t be denied
He’s quiet, he smiles frequently, he’s good with kids, and he’s soft spoken, but Tre is starting to show the heart of a killer. Last night it was DePaul, which can be explained away by anyone who would care to, but tonight Tre went for 17 in the second half again and stuck the game winner despite the attentions of the absurdly overhyped Andrew Chrabascz. Tre walked away saying “he can’t hold me.” That was true. With another big game and, thanks to him, the NCAA tournament looming, Trevon is going to get his chance at more big shots.
We’re going dancing
It may not be a sure thing yet, but Xavier just filled in the biggest gap in their resume. No top 25 RPI wins? Done. No big wins without Edmond Sumner? Done. No wins against anyone other than DePaul since the Super Bowl? Done. Beating the media darling of the Midwest should take care of everything that the committee needed to see. One more win would certainly help, but getting left out now would truly be a shock.