By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~
Xavier men’s basketball unofficially began play this past weekend in an exhibition that quickly turned into a 102-68 win over the Division-II Northwood Timberwolves.
The grind-it-out process quickly brought the Musketeers to a 6-0 lead over the Timberwolves that would transform into a double-figure lead at 17-7.
Each player that came onto the floor helped extend the lead and excite fans.
Senior center Matt Stainbrook led the Musketeers with 16 points and tied junior forward James Farr with seven rebounds.
Stainbrook’s points came from making five out of six shot attempts from the floor while also connecting on all six of his free throw attempts.
Freshman forward Trevon Blueitt had an impressive performance as the only starting freshman from his highly touted class and recorded 14 points, four rebounds and an assist.
Seven of his points came in the last five minutes of the first half and converting both of his 3-point attempts.
Head coach Chris Mack had his team operating with an inside-out strategy from the very beginning.
Whether it is Stainbrook, sophomore forward Jalen Reynolds or even freshman center Sean O’Mara, the big men were receiving their fair share of touches in the post all night long.
O’Mara and sophomore guard Myles Davis worked with junior guard Remy Abell to show how lethal the bench will be this year.
O’Mara quietly matched Blueitt in points by attacking the offensive glass and maintaining prime position for easy dump off passes.
Myles Davis displayed increased comfort and composure on the offensive end.
Davis’s attacks to the basket resulted in trips to the line, where he went 3-3. Davis finished with 10 points in just eight minutes of play.
Abell became more comfortable as the game went on, starting the second half for sophomore guard Brandon Randolph.
Abell, an Indiana University transfer, turned in nine points, three rebounds and two assists — a diverse stat line that will be much needed without the extensive talents of departed Semaj Christon and Justin Martin.
Freshman forward Makinde London and Reynolds did not fail to excite fans with thunderous slam dunks throughout the night.
Closing the list of notable freshmen performances came from backup point guard Larry Austin Jr. Austin came on to relieve senior captain Dee Davis as the floor general and exceeded expectations.
In 18 minutes on, Austin rapidly increased the game’s tempo and used his deceptive strength to get into the paint.
Austin impressed fans by being audible in the huddle and on the court to lead his teammates.
Xavier men’s basketball will officially start its 2014-15 campaign and bid for the NCAA tournament on Nov. 14 at Cintas Center against Northern Arizona.
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