Xavier came into this one after not beating Marquette the last 2 seasons. They ended the 4 game skid today in a back and forth game in which Adam Kunkel hit a stepback, game-winnning 3 as time expired.
The game started without Dwon Odom, who couldn’t clear Covid protocol, and X looking a little rusty after not playing a game in 11 days. Marquette’s bigs were finding life much too easy in the paint but Paul Scruggs (29/4/6) was on fire once again to keep X in it. Colby Jones (6/2/4) got his first start in Odom’s place and showed off his defensive capabilities and his offensive versatility. X trailed by as many as 9 but kept within striking distance and trailed by 1 at the half.
The second half started out the same as the first with the teams exchanging blows before X took the lead off an Adam Kunkel (22/2/0) and-1. Neither team was able to extend the lead beyond one possession until Kunkel and Carter (7/4/4) hit 3s on back to back possessions to push the score to 78-70 with just under 6 to play. Marquette kept closing and X kept answering with big shots from Kunkel and Johnson (14/5/1) to hold a 6 point lead entering the final minute. Carter then clanged a couple free throws and Marquette pulled within 2. Carter hit his next FTs before fouling Koby McEwen on a made 3. X had the last possession and Paul Scruggs attacked the rim but the ball bounced off the rim and was tipped to Kunkel who caught it, dribbled once and stepped back before releasing the game winner.
A Few Takeaways
- Paul Scruggs is a beast We already knew this but Scruggs put up his 3rd straight performance of 20 points or more. Today, he filled in at point guard in Odom’s absence and was sensational. He shot 11-19 without needing to dominate the ball too much. He was patient and aggressive in getting to the rim while also hitting from deep.
- This team has good depth X played 10 players today and 9 of them played a meaningful amount of time. Stanley got some burn and wasn’t brilliant in his first game but did show incredible hustle and effort. I’m confident he’ll find his footing before too long. Tandy and Griffin didn’t have their best days but both were solid in their time. Kunkel was sensational off the bench and provided quality minutes off the bench and was another offensive option that Marquette couldn’t cope with.
- An important win to get After not playing for 11 days it would have been easy for X to drop this game just due to general sluggishness and malaise. Xavier’s next scheduled games are at Creighton and hosting Nova. Getting this first win is hug for obvious reasons but getting back to winning ways before two tough games was incredibly valuable.
- Adam Kunkel is a great extra weapon Kunkel came off the bench for 22 points on only 9 shots and cashed out on 6 attempts from the line. His release is super quick and he has a nose for finding the right spots on offense. He also showed today that he’s not afriad of the big moments and was ice cold down the stretch before hitting the game winner. And to think, it was only 15 days ago he found out he could play this season.