Men’s basketball keeps tourney hopes alive

By: Lauren J. Young ~Staff Writer~

The Xavier men’s basketball team garnered an impressive home win over the DePaul Blue Demons with a final score of 83-64 last Wednesday at Cintas Center.

The win improved the Musketeers’ record to 18-8 overall (8-5 in the Big East), putting them in third place in the Big East.

The Musketeers remained dominant on defense, preventing the Blue Demons from scoring within the first 4:24 of the game.

During the following eight minutes, Xavier led DePaul 16-2. DePaul responded by putting up 6-12 from the 3-point line to cut Xavier’s lead to 10. At halftime, Xavier was up 39-27.

At the start of the second half, the Musketeers returned with another strong sense of defense, holding the Blue Demons down in a 12-0 run. Junior forward Justin Martin contributed eight of those 12 points, including two 3-pointers.

Martin finished the night with a career-high of 22 points as well as seven rebounds and two assists.

DePaul struggled throughout the remainder of the second half, despite the handful of 3-pointers it was able to put up. Xavier managed to capture a win with a 19-point difference.

Several players stepped up and contributed some great plays to the Musketeers’ dominating win. Besides Martin’s 22 points, fellow junior guard Dee Davis tied his season-high with 17 points, had two rebounds and seven assists.

In addition, Davis sank four 3-point shots, tying his season high. Sophomore guard Semaj Christon put up 14 points, grabbed four rebounds and seven assists.

This marked the 14th straight game Christon has scored in double-figures. Senior forward Isaiah Philmore also scored 11 points and had six rebounds and one assist.

The Musketeers finished with the best shooting percentages they have had this season with a 64.3 field goal percentage (27-42) and shot 80 percent from the 3-point mark (8-10).

On the other hand, the Blue Demons only recorded 35.8 percent from the field (19-53) and 31.8 percent from the 3-point arc (7-22).

All that aside, the Musketeers weren’t able to continue with their defensive successes when they travelled to Washington, D.C. for a contest against fellow Big East member Georgetown.

The Muskies fell to the Hoyas last Saturday 74-52. The loss brought Xavier down to an 18-9 overall record and 8-6 in the Big East, tying for third in the league with Marquette.

After struggling through the first half, the Musketeers returned from the halftime break and started with a 7-1 run, down 22-33.

That 11-point deficit was the smallest point margin the Muskies were able to obtain in the entire game.

The Hoyas quickly responded with a 12-2 run of their own. The high number of turnovers was what really did the Muskies in. Georgetown converted 20 points off of 12 Musketeer turnovers, while Xavier only converted four points off three Georgetown turnovers.

Georgetown was quite effective offensively, shooting 52 percent from the field (25-48), 42 percent from the 3-point mark (5-12) and 73 percent at the free throw line.

Xavier, on the other hand, shot 44 percent from the field (16-36), 36 percent from the 3-point mark (4-11) and 80 percent from the line (16-20).

The only Musketeer starters to score were Christon, Martin and junior center Matt Stainbrook.

Christon finished with 17 points and two assists. Martin had 11 points, four rebounds and two assists, while Stainbrook contributed 12 points, three rebounds and one assist. Fellow starters Davis and senior forward Erik Stenger remained scoreless.

Xavier’s head coach Chris Mack commented on the loss, “We were overwhelmed. We were overwhelmed from the beginning of the game, all the way through the end of the game,” he said.

The Musketeers defeated St. John’s 65-53 last night at Madison Square Garden to improve to 9-6 in the Big East.

Freshman forward Jalen Reynolds was Xavier’s star of the game, putting up a career high 17 points and 16 rebounds in 29 minutes.