Of the litany of things Xavier fans were wondering coming into the Charleston Classic, a couple of them were answered at least for a night as Xavier put together their most complete performance of the year to stifle the Tigers and take home a comfortable win.
This defense is for real
Towson is not going to be mistaken for Hank Gathers’ era Loyola Marymount any time soon, but they posted .94 points per possession against Florida and had not been held under 70 in any of the rest of their games. Tonight, Xavier absolutely dominated them with their defense, holding them to 20 points in the first half and never letting them back into the game in the second half. This included a stretch of 12 straight stops, which is incredible defense against any D-I team. There were only two players on the Tigers that had more points than they did field goal attempts. Simply put, Xavier zipped them up for all 40 minutes.
Hope is on the horizon for the offense
Xavier’s three point percentage at the start of the game tonight was 20.9, which I am told is bad. Those of us who have held the faith that eventually the deep balls would start falling were rewarded tonight, as Xavier uncorked a 7-11 mark in a second half barrage that briefly hearkened back to the Bluiett/Macura/Gates days. Bryce Moore led the way with a 3-4 mark, but Quentin Goodin, Paul Scruggs, Jason Carter, Dontarious James, and Leighton Schrand all joined in to help Xavier to a very good 9-22 mark for the night. Needless to say, if this team guards like this and shoots 40% from deep on a nightly basis, they are going places.
Xavier ran away with a first half lead
The biggest positive tonight, in my opinion, was the way Xavier put this game away. After Towson punched back from Xavier’s initial surge to cut the lead to 20-15 with 9:41 left in the first half, Xavier went on an 11-2 run over the next 9:40 and only briefly let the Tigers back within single digits. The effort remained relentless from Xavier on defense, as it has all year, but the scoring droughts that have plagued the offense did not re-emerge and because of that, the Musketeers stayed well in control throughout proceedings. Coach Steele frequently highlights the importance of putting together a full 40 minutes, and he has to be pleased by the steps Xavier took in that department tonight.