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Ryan Welage and Tyrique Jones lead Xavier past IUPUI in Travis Steele’s debut

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Muskies found enough to get it done against a game Jaguars squad.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Colorado
Undefeated.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There were three different phases to tonight’s game. First, Xavier came storming out of the gates, scoring the first 10 and leading by as many as 18 in the first half. Tyrique was 5-7 from the floor at that point and looked irrepressible. Then it fell apart.

With IUPUI’s Cam Justice catching a flagrant-2 ejection after tripping Zach Hankins, IUPUI closed the half on a 17-5 run before tying the game on the first possession of the second half. Things stayed touch and go for the next 12 minutes, with Xavier hanging onto a one or two possession lead for most of the middle portion of the second half.

Then it was like a switch flipped, and Xavier ran away with the game. After scoring 3 points in the first half, Ryan Welage dropped 21 in the second. Tyrique stayed quiet for the bulk of the second, but burst out of 7 points between the under-8 and under-4 media timeouts, helping Xavier bury the game.

The game trickled to a quiet end with Xavier cruising to victory, but it wasn’t as perfunctory as it should have been. The win is the important thing, but Xavier has left themselves plenty of work to do to get ready for real tests ahead. Here are our three takeaways from tonight’s game. What are yours?

New Tyrique is a monster

Before he eventually fouled out on a ticky-tack call, Jones was all over the paint. He had the beating of IUPUI’s front line, including a 7’1” center, whenever he got hold of the ball. He made some good plays on defense, particularly drawing two charges and turning two steals into breakaway dunks, and he pretty much flushed everything he touched near the rim. He has bounce for days to go with his ridiculous strength.

Ryan Welage is for real

After starting the game 0-4 from the floor, Welage ripped off 24 points on 9-13/6-9/0-0 from that point. He also grabbed 7 boards and kicked in a couple of assists. Obviously you want to see your shooters connect from deep, but he was 3-4 from inside the arc and flashed a couple of nice one-dribble moves to create space for his release. Xavier is going to need big buckets from him, and tonight was a good start.

This team misses Q

Naji did not look great tonight, operating on the ball for long portions of the game. Paul Scruggs showed some nice scoring moves and a confident stroke, but he’s more a guy who can run the point than a point guard. Xavier’s offense fell completely silent against IUPUI’s 2-3 zone to let the Jaguars back into the game tonight. I’m going to assume having a veteran point on the floor would have helped immensely with that.