Xavier started this one with one foot in the second round already. After a lackluster start left the Muskies down 4-3, they ripped off 10 straight to apparently establish dominance in the game. Texas Southern wasn’t going gentle into that good night though, and their Mick Cronin Memorial Award for Most Annoying Person Too Short to Ride a Roller Coaster favorite Demontrae Jefferson flexed and preened his way through a 16-0 answering run that put the Tigers up 20-13.
Then Xavier woke up. Tre hit a jumper, and then JP ripped off 12 of the game’s next 14 points to put Xavier up 29-20 and the game directly into the dirt. It was a 36-9 run by the time Texas Southern stopped reeling, and no amount of annoying antics from Demon Trae - who had his shot blocked at least eight times tonight - would make any difference in the outcome of the game.
From then on out it was perfunctory. Kerem Kanter got into the act in the second half with 16 points after the break. Demon Trae grabbed a handful of Quentin Goodin’s piece for no apparent reason. Some dude from SBN tweeted the worst JP Macura hot take on the internet. By the time Xavier hung the century and kept moving, the game had long been over.
Tre and JP are ready to rock
Xavier’s senior leaders showed up in March form tonight, splashing from all over early and often. At one point in the game, they were up 32-28 on the entire Texas Southern team. Trevon was hitting jump shots from all over the place and JP was effervescent, hitting a season high in threes and flying to the rim against the smaller Texas Southern defenders. There will be tougher tests, but X’s two most important players easily passed this one.
Xavier was not taking this one super seriously
I’m not an armchair psychologist or anything, but Xavier’s performance bore all the earmarks of a team that was looking ahead to the next game. Witness their lackadaisical early defensive performance, just kind of watching as Texas Southern went on a 16-0 run. Witness their fairly mediocre performance from the free throw line. Witness the double-digit turnovers against the 302nd-best turnover-forcing defense in the nation. Witness Tre’s bored smirk as Xavier ripped off its own 16-0 run to take control of the game. On to the next.
Style points mean nothing at this time of the year. Forget the RPI, the KenPom, Bart Torvik, or any other metric or rating system. Basketball divides by two in March. If you’re one of the 32 that came from the 64, mission accomplished. Next up? Being one of the 16.