By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~
As students were away for winter break, Xavier men’s basketball has steadily remained afloat as conference play in the Big East has begun.
Just one day after the last day of finals for students, the Musketeers headed to Alabama and suffered an 89-88 double overtime loss to the Auburn Tigers.
After a strong first half, head coach Chris Mack’s team seemingly could not do anything to interupt the Tigers from clawing their way back into the game and ultimately to victory.
Junior guard Remy Abell stood out with a career-high 18 points.
Following an eight-day holiday hiatus, Xavier welcomed Florida Gulf Coast University to Cintas.
In the spirit of giving, the Musketeers decisively sent their opponents back to the Sunshine State with another loss, a 71-57 thrashing by the Musketeers.
Abell once again led the team in scoring, but the tone was set by seniors point guard Dee Davis (12 points, four assists) and center Matt Stainbrook (11 points, seven rebounds).
Xavier remained at home for their next game against Georgetown for a New Year’s Eve headliner as a conclusion to the Big East’s conference-play opening day madness that included six consecutive games played by all 12 of its members.
Despite a 10:30 p.m. tip-off and the game ending a year later than when it began, the Musketeers still managed to upset the No. 25 ranked team in the nation.
Sophomore forward Jalen Reynolds matched his career-high with 17 points to propel in a much needed standout performance in the marquee matchup.
The victory moved head coach Chris Mack into sole ownership of third place on Xavier’s all-time wins list with 121 wins. Mack now only trails Skip Prosser (148) and Pete Gillen (202).
In typical Big East fashion, the Musketeers then suffered a road loss 71-68 when visiting DePaul in Chicago.
Freshman Trevon Blueitt’s outstanding performance with 19 points and 12 rebounds only carried the team so far as he watched his game-tying 3-point attempt just barely miss at the buzzer.
Xavier then got back into winning ways as it defeated no. 19 Seton Hall 69-58 to add another impressive home win to its resume.
Dee Davis led the team to victory with 14 points and six assists.
Unfortunately, the Musketeers’ struggles on the road continued at the hands of the Butler Bulldogs with an 88-76 loss in Indianapolis to close out winter break. Stainbrook’s 21 points (17 in the second half alone) was not enough to keep the Musketeers close down the stretch.
Stainbrook and company look to make their first road statement and pick up a key win against a ranked opponent at 9 p.m. on Jan. 14 in Philadelphia against No. 5 Villanova. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.
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