If I told you that JP Macura and Trevon Bluiett combined to go 3-17 behind the arc, would you believe a Xavier team won? Would you believe that Xavier shot 36 threes, made only 11, and beat a team with 16 year NBA veteran CJ Miles on it? What if... ok, enough of the hypotheticals. Zip Em Up rode the home crowd and Kerem Kanter to a big win over probably the best two seed in this field. It’s on to the regional final.
Kanter was the horse today. He went for 21/11/2 and couldn’t be stopped at times in the first half. In trying to stop him, Sideline Cancer ran Mike Daum into foul trouble. Sideline has some incredible individual talent, but they were not well coached. Xavier (ZEU, whatever) looked like guys used to playing with each other and ran out to an early 13 point lead.
What if I told you that a Xavier/Zip Em Up team with a big lead would lose focus, start shooting to many threes, and squander a big lead? Would you believe that one? It took some hard staring at the bench to confirm that Travis Steele wasn’t there, but he wasn’t and this lead still went the same way. (Almost makes you think maybe everything wasn’t all his fault, but I digress.)
I hope I never see Marcus Keene again ever, but he had a night at the Cintas. Keene led all scorers with 30 and, if CJ Miles had perhaps stopped shooting and started working for Keene things might have been different. On the other hand, his coach told him in a timeout to both go under a screen and go over it, so maybe Sideline wasn’t operating at peak performance.
The second quarter was marred by horrendous officiating that needn’t be dwelt on. That meant the former Muskies only led by three at the half. The second half was a demonstration of two teams going back and form. Four former Musketeers (Kanter, Bluiett, Christon, Macura) and a former Commodore (Riley Lachance) would end the night in double figures. Semaj Christon was again a menace on the offensive end. In a well officiated game he would have taken a dozen free throws, in this one he took and made three. No one on Sideline could stay in front of him, though, and his mazy dribbling set up X for the win.
The Elam Ending was set for 87 and Semaj got X most of the way there with a score, an assist to Kerem Kanter, and then a drive that Kanter cleaned up. JP Macura finally got his moment when he drilled a three to win it. The Elam Ending meant that there would be celebrations, and there were.
BJ Raymond is determined to be the man creating the moments, and he delivered here again. It was his troop up the stairs to collect Sister Fleming that delayed the bracket advancement, but it was well worth it as he helped the beloved Xavier icon down the stairs to a waiting CJ Anderson to help her the rest of the way. Xavier Nation is a family, and now they’re a family heading to another regional final.