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2016 Finds Its Footing and Puts 2015 Away Down the Stretch

Having the better versions of the same players seems like an unfair advantage.

DePaul v Xavier
Sophomore Tre and JP are better than Freshman Tre an JP. Who would have guessed?
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

This game was sure to be a good one from the start seeing as these teams share a lot of the same players. After narrowly escaping an upset in the first round, 2016 was looking to find their footing and beat a very good 2015 team. 2015 coasted past the 2002 squad in the first round behind a great performance from Trevon Bluiett.

The game started out with both teams big men asserting themselves. First, Matt Stainbrook (15/5/4) scored through contact and converted the free throw. Jalen Reynolds ‘16 (11/6/0) responded with a nice touch off the glass. A couple of minutes later, Stainbrook scored again on a putback dunk to put 2015 up 7-5. This was followed by a Reynolds ‘15 (17/11/1) slam, Sean O’Mara ‘16 then stuffed his only points of the game before Stainbrook slammed home another one.

The teams continued to trade blows until 2015 opened up a 7-point lead with 4 minutes left in the half. 2016 was not about to fade out of the half though and Ed Sumner (20/5/6) quickly scored and converted his free throw. Trevon Bluiett ‘16 (11/6/2) knocked down two free throws, and Myles Davis made a tip in to tie the game. 2016 ended up closing the half on a 16-8 run to lead 39-38 at the half.

James Farr ‘16 (11/7/0) opened up the half with 4 points and JP Macura (12/0/5) knocked down a jumper to push the 2016 lead to seven. A couple made jumpers from Myles Davis ‘15 (12/2/1) pulled the lead back to just one point with 17 minutes left. Over the next 10 minutes, neither team was backing down. 2016 could only get a lead to 4, but every time 2015 would pull it right back.

With 6 minutes left, 2016 finally started to put it away. First, Bluiett hit a three, then Macura canned a three before scoring off a drive on the following possession, this made the score 72-64. A couple strong finishes from Jalen Reynolds ‘15 were mere bumps in the road and another Macura bucket pushed the lead up to 9 with just under 3 minutes to go. Eventually 2015 started fouling, but Larry Austin Jr. and Sumner knocked down free throws to officially close the door. The high scoring, offensive affair was killed off by the Sophomore versions of JP and Trevon while their Freshman selves, and the rest of the 2015 team, could only look on in despair. James Farr knocked down the final free throw of the game and that was that, 2016 had just enough to win this one by a score of 87-81.

2016 is now in the final four of the Xavier Sweet 16*! They will be facing off against the 2010 squad led by the legendary backcourt of Holloway and Crawford.