What did you get Kyky Tandy for his 19th birthday? I hope it was good, because his teammates got him a comprehensive victory on the road against a power conference opponent. I actually hope you didn't get him anything, because that's probably a compliance violation.
Anyway, Xavier set the tone early and never looked back in this one. Before the first media timeout, two themes that would tell the story of the game has already developed: Tyrique Jones (18/14/1) had 4 points, and Quentin Goodin (4/2/11) had 2 assists. Xavier's defense was also locked in from the jump, forcing 4 missed shots and 3 turnovers in the first war.
Q continued to pull all the right strings for the Muskies. Before 8 minutes had come off the clock, Goodin had 4 assists and Xavier was up by 10. Every time the Horned Frogs would inch back in, Xavier had an answer to push it back out. Twice TCU hit threes to cut the lead to single digits, but Naji Marshall (8/6/2) and Jason Carter (7/3/3) answered each immediately to shut down momentum.
TCU went on a quick 4-0 run with 5 minutes left in the half to cut the lead to 7 and set up a potentially tight finish to the half. Instead, Xavier closed the half on a 9-5 run behind 3 from Naji, 4 from Tyrique, and 2 more assists from Q to stretch the lead to 11 at the half.
If TCU entertained any notion of fighting back in the second half, Xavier squashed that immediately with an 8-0 run out of the interval behind the irrepressible Tyrique Jones, who dominated the paint all day. From there, it was a perfunctory march to the finish line, as Xavier let off the gas late to let TCU out some gloss on the scoreline. Anyone who saw it knew the game wasn't close for about 35 minutes of game time.
Here's what else we took away...
There are still things to work on
Xavier's offense clicked for huge portions of the day, with Q's 11 dimes setting the tone, but they also coughed up 21 turnovers. That kind of number is not going to make Travis Steele happy, even against a ballhawking defense like TCU's. They were also a repugnant 6-11 from the line and allowed 17 offensive rebounds. The biggest win of the year to this point came with some teachable moments.
Coach Steele goes eight deep
Those are a good eight, mind you. Zach Freemantle had 9 and 4 and was his usual disruptive self in the paint, and Kyky Tandy and Bryce Moore combined for 11 points and went 3-5 from beyond the arc. In a game Xavier had in hand for basically 15 minutes, Dontarius James and Dahmir Bishop were both conspicuous by their respective absences. I think each of those guys has a role to play, but Coach Steele didn't see one for either today.
Xavier has done what it needed to in the non-con
It wouldn't have taken too much to break better for Xavier to be undefeated right now. Instead they're 11-2 and have a very good win in hand (@ TCU) and no bad losses. The chances for the high end wins will be there in the Big East, and there aren't bad losses outside of home games against Providence and St. John's. A 10-win conference season should be the minimum expectation, and that performance would put Xavier back into the NCAA tournament after their longest absence of the millennium.