Georgetown likely didn’t think they were testing themselves when they put UNC Greensboro on the schedule. Come the end of the day, though, and the Hoyas are staring down the barrel of 4-3 with three more difficult games coming up. Sometimes what separates the truly good teams from some also-rans is doing what has to be done. Xavier did just that today.
The Musketeers put away Lipscomb by 25 in a game that the Bison never even managed a 10% chance of winning. This was close for a short time, but never in doubt. With Lipscomb still hanging around near the five minute mark in the first half, Xavier went a 14-2 run that effectively ended the game. The Musketeers never really went on another extended run, but mostly because they never needed to. X just eased away with this one in a way that left absolutely no doubt as to who the better team was.
Paul Scruggs (15/6/6) took the next step towards being the focal point of the offense and took the team lead in scoring. The junior is now averaging 15.3 points per game despite still only shooting 31.4% from behind the arc. Today Scruggs also provided the highlights by whipping a 40 foot pass to Zach Freemantle (15/5/0) from the seat of his pants. Freemantle was dominant in his own right. With Tyrique Jones (14/10/1) occasionally frustrating Byron Larkin by being “too cute,” Freemantle was simply grabbing the ball in the post and going at the rim. Freemantle was also a welcome 7-7 from the line.
That was welcome because no one else on the team made even one free throw. That’s not a typo of any sort, the rest of the Musketeers were 0-6 from the line. In a game that was anything resembling a contest, or one in which 90 points would have won the crowd tacos or something, that kind of incompetence might have mattered. Today, it was just something of annoyance that Xavier still can’t cash in on easy points.
The Muskies didn’t cash in on the harder ones today, either, but they showed some signs of life in that regard. 8-24 from behind the arc is not generally something worth celebrating, but for this team it represents a step forward. Bryce Moore (9/0/1) went 3-6 to take back the team lead at 36.7%. Quentin Goodin (7/1/2) shot reasonably and converted 1-3, as did Paul Scruggs. Jason Carter (5/5/0) made one of his two attempts. Stop things there and Xavier is 6-14 and within squinting distance of looking really good. Unfortunately, Naji Marshall (13/4/5) was 1-4, Kyky Tandy (5/1/2) was 1-5, and Dah Bishop (0/3/4) missed his only attempt. A step forward maybe, but it’s tempered.
The appearance of Tandy and fellow freshman Daniel Ramsey (2/1/0) was a step forward with no strings attached. Neither of the newcomers set the world ablaze today, but both made their first shot, appeared in the their first game, and looked generally like basketball players. Neither looked immediately ready to save the day, neither has to at all. What Xavier demonstrated today is that seven games into the season they have added two more quality pieces. Tandy and Ramsey now have one more game to adjust before things suddenly get very real.
There’s not a lot to take away from buy games most of the time. This one was no exception. Xavier is far better than Lipscomb and they pounded them today to make that point. Games like this do serve a purpose though, and Travis Steele can use this one and the upcoming tilt against Green Bay to get his charges ready. Enjoy these games, Xavier fans, the dragons at the edge of the map come soon.