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Xavier finally gets the blowout it needs, running Miami out of the Cintas Center

Xavier pulled away in the first half and never looked back, finishing the game with the end of the bench on the floor.

Maui Invitational - Xavier v San Diego State Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

Xavier started slowly in this one, but the next to last bucket on the play-by-play for Xavier read: made three-point jumper by Dontarius James; assisted by Leighton Schrand. If you know the names, you know the story.

It was a bit hairy at the beginning, as Miami’s Bam Bowman looked like a young Shaq against Xavier’s front line in the first half. He hit a three to open the game, then went to work in the paint, scoring or assisting all of Miami’s first 12 points. The RedHawks also had the beating of X on the glass early and led at the first media timeout.

That was pretty much the high-water mark for Miami. After being up 10-7, the allowed Xavier to go on a 35-18 run, thanks largely to Xavier’s commitment to get into the paint. Tyrique had 8 and 7 at the half and - aside from a couple of stretches of ill-judged offensive execution - they perimeter trio of Naji, Paul, and Q committed to passing up long jumpers to get to the rim.

Carrying a big lead into the half without giving it up, the Muskies didn’t look back out of the interval. They came out with an 8-1 run keyed by Tyrique Jones getting a couple quick buckets right out of the break. From there, it was just a question of what the final margin would be. Xavier kept doing what got them ahead instead of playing garbage time basketball, and the final score of 82-55 is a fairly accurate reflection of how hard Xavier dominated this, their most complete game of the season.

Takeaway below, but first, the tweet of the night:

That pretty much sums it up.

The paint is the way forward

Xavier was 7-22 (31.8%) from behind the arc but a scalding 26-39 (66.7%) from inside it. Tyrique was only 4-11, but he made Bam Bowman work in a way that paid dividends as Bowman disappeared from the game after his hot start. The members of the team that weren’t getting mugged by this generation’s answer to Ron Rollerson shot more than 75% from inside the arc. This team can hit the next level offensively if they commit to pounding the ball inside.

Naji is still a budding star

It was a jerky start to the season for Xavier’s sophomore wing, but now it’s lights out and away we go. He posted a cool 17/6/2 with 4 steals on 7-10/2-3/1-1 shooting and smothered Miami star Nike Sibande on the other end. He was a force of nature for Xavier all game. X needs him to be that going forward for this team to meet its potential.

Quentin Goodin has a specific lane

The good: 8/1/8 and no turnovers. The less good: 3-10/0-3/2-2 shooting. Q got some tough rolls and an unfriendly whistle around the rim, but all three of his threes were questionable at best. Two came with more than half the shot clock left, and the last was a step-back attempt late in the first half. To his credit, he came out of the locker room and shot no threes in the second half. If he’s open, near the arc, and in rhythm off the catch, he can shoot it. When he’s trying to dribble into his own shot with the defense hanging around, X can probably find better options.