By: Nick McGill
The Xavier basketball team once again overpowered its opponent in a 76-59 win over the Morehead State Eagles Friday night at Cintas Center.
Xavier’s record improved to 3-0 for the sixth straight season. At the outset of the game, the two teams battled back and forth, trading the lead until Xavier went on a 12-0 run and then another run of 14-2 to gain a halftime lead of 38-23.
For the third straight game, Xavier held its opponents to less than 25 points in the first half.
For most of the game, the refs were not hesitant to blow their whistles, leading to a total of 56 fouls between the two teams.
In the second half, Xavier continued to hold the Eagles’ offensive attack at bay and hold a comfortable lead.
The Musketeers thrived on transition opportunities, scoring 22 fast-break points including an exciting alley-oop in transition on a connection from junior guard Dee Davis to freshman forward Jalen Reynolds.
Feeding off of an impressive defensive performance, the Musketeers outplayed the Eagles in front of the home crowd.
Xavier ended up shooting 52.8 percent (28-53) from the field including a vast improvement at the free-throw line shooting 70 percent (21-30) after struggling to cash in at the charity stripe in its previous two games.
The Musketeers also dropped an impressive 50 points in the paint. The difference maker in the game proved to be the aggressive defense that held Morehead State to shoot only 29.2 percent (14-48) from the field.
Of the Eagles’ 59 total points, 24 came at the free throw line. The strong defensive presence of the Xavier big men allowed only 16 points in the paint.
Sophomore guard Semaj Christon bucketed 20 points to record his 22nd straight double-digit scoring game. Dee Davis made his first appearance of the season after sitting out the first two games with an injury and scored seven points while adding nine assists and five rebounds.
Other top performers included junior center Matt Stainbrook with seven points and 10 rebounds and Reynolds with 11 points and six rebounds. Once again, with the exception of Christon’s 20 points, Xavier had a balanced scoring attack in route to its 17-point victory.
With Friday night’s victory, the Xavier basketball team has given fans many things to be excited about, and the Musketeers could be showing glimpses of a promising season.
Xavier is set to face Miami (Ohio) on Wednesday and Abilene Christian on Monday (both at home) before heading to the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
After being off of most experts’ radars at the beginning of the season, these three victories have harnessed the attention of the country and have earned the Musketeers votes in the AP Top 25 poll.
With a few more consecutive wins, it could be only a matter of time before Xavier is heralded as one of the Top 25 teams in the country.