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Xavier downs IUPUI 82-69 in Season Opener

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Xavier vs Florida State Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier kicked off their season tonight against IUPUI. The Musketeers emerged victorious by a score of 82-69

The Musketeers played a strong first half, for the first 16 minutes. They led by as many as 18 points with 5:34 left in the first half, but five turnovers and two points allowed IUPUI to climb back into the contest, going on a 17-2 run to close the half. Xavier lead by just three points at the break, 37-34.

The defense was as advertised for the first 15 minutes, allowing only 17 points. For the half, they held IUPUI to 25.8 percent shooting from the field and 29.4 percent from three point range.

Tyrique Jones’ weight loss was evident, as he had a highlight reel first half, with a few dunks and steals that made the fans go crazy. He was limited to eight minutes, but had 10 points and two steals in those eight minutes.

Here are the rest of the team leaders at halftime:

Points-Tyrique, 10

Rebounds-Castlin, 7

Assists-Naji, 4

Steals-Tyrique, 2

Blocks-Hankins, 2

The second half started off to a bit of a tough for the Muskies, as IUPUI took the lead twice in the first four minutes. Xavier settled into a bit of a rhythm after that stretch on the back of grad transfer Ryan Welage, as he scored 21 points in the second half to propel Xavier into a lead they would hold the rest of the contest.

Though the defense wasn’t as strong in the second half as the first, they still held IUPUI to 35.7 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from three point range.

Welage went 5-8 from deep in the second half en route to his 21, and he finished with 24 points for the game.

Jones built on a strong first half to finish with 17 points and six rebounds, in addition to four steals. Steele noted after the game Jones made some key “hustle plays.”

Naji Marshall fought through illness and four days out of practice to finish with 13 points and a career high seven assists.

Kyle Castlin had a solid debut as well, finishing with nine points, including a three, and eight rebounds.

Team leaders for the game:

Points: Welage, 24

Rebounds: Castlin, 8

Assists: Naji, 7

Steals: Tyrique, 4

Blocks: Hankins, 5

Key Stats:

Rebounds: 43-36 X

Points in the paint: 36-16 X

Points of turnovers: 19-10 X

Offensive boards: 13-9 X

Threes: Welage, 6-13. Rest of the team, 3-16

Up next: Xavier takes on Evansville in Cintas on Saturday, Nov. 10th at 4:00 p.m.