By: Brent Raines ~Sports Editor~
The past two weeks have been good for Xavier basketball. The team went to Ann Arbor, Mich. on Nov. 20 and knocked off No. 24 Michigan, putting Xavier on the national radar and earning them a No. 23 ranking. Perhaps because of that ranking, the Musketeers toiled through a lethargic win against local opponent Northern Kentucky on Nov. 23.
The Advocare Invitational at Disney World provided the platform for Xavier to really take off, as the Musketeers blew out Alabama and USC over Thanksgiving to reach the finals of the tournament. Xavier’s 29-point win over rival Dayton on Nov. 29 capped off a great couple of weeks for the program and led to a No. 12 ranking in the latest AP poll.
Player of the fortnight:
While everyone on the team has been contributing in some way, no one has been scoring as consistently as sophomore forward Trevon Bluiett. A preseason honorable mention All-Big East team, Bluiett has scored in double- figures every game thus far, leading to a 14.3 scoring average. Not only is he scoring frequently, he is also shooting efficiently with a 43.6 shot percentage from downtown. He has also been solid on the glass, kicking in games of 16 and nine rebounds to be second on the team with an average of 7.4 rebounds per game.
Redshirt junior forward Jalen Reynolds, senior forward James Farr and redshirt freshman guard Edmund Sumner have all had strong starts to the season.
14.4 — Rebound margin for the Musketeers over their opponents. Xavier
has also out-rebounded its opponents by at least ten rebounds in every game so far this season.
4 — Number of starters who are listed as guards on Xavier’s official team roster. Their excellence on the glass has been even more impressive considering that only one starter, Reynolds, is taller than 6-foot-6.
.63 — Xavier opponents’ assist to turnover ratio. If that were a real team’s statistic, it would be one of the worst 15 in all of college basketball.
152 — Number of made free throws for the Musketeers. That ranks second nationally and their rate of 21.7 free throws made per game is ninth best.
178 — Fouls committed by Xavier’s opponents against the Musketeers. If they were a real team, that would be tied for third most nationally.
They said it:
“The whole game, for 40 minutes. That was frustrating,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack, when asked what the frustrating part of the Musketeers’ lackluster win against Northern Kentucky. His tune would change by the next Sunday.
“Our guys were ready to play. We knew we were playing against an NCAA tournament team,” Mack said after Xavier’s blowout win against Dayton on Nov. 29. “It was our day today, and it feels good.”
Xavier welcomes the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to Cintas Center on Saturday, and the Wright State Raiders on Dec. 8.
The Hilltoppers are 3-3, their best win coming against a decent Stony Brook team on Nov. 21. The Raiders are 2-4, although one of their losses was a 78-63 loss in a solid effort against No. 1 Kentucky on Nov. 20.
Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky tips off at 8:30 p.m., while Xavier’s Nov. 8 game against Wright State commences at 7 p.m.
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