By: Brent Raines ~Sports Editor~
Coming off a disappointing home loss to Georgetown, Xavier responded by beating Seton Hall and top-10 foe Providence to remain tied for second in the Big East with Georgetown/ Creighton.
The two wins improved Xavier’s record to 18-2 and 6-2 in the conference. No. 6 Villanova (17-3, 8-1 Big East) is the only Big East team with a better record than the Musketeers. Seton Hall (13-6, 3-4 BE) entered the game hot, coming off two strong performances against No. 12 Providence and then-No. 4 Villanova. The Pirates went to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and handed the Friars their second conference loss, before falling just short of handing the then-unbeaten Wildcats their first conference loss in a 72-71 game.
The Pirates carried that level of performance into the game against the Musketeers, trading the lead four times in a competitive first half. Xavier was able to pull away in the second half and nevere relinquished its halftime advantage en route to an 84-78 win.
Three Pirates scored at least 17 points, led by sophomore forward Desi Rodriguez, who scored 21 points and collected eight rebounds. Xavier mostly played its 1-3-1 zone and Seton Hall struggled shooting over it, going 6-27 (22.2 percent) from beyond the arc. Poor shooting carried over to the free-throw line, where the Pirates went 10-19 (52.6 percent).
Providence (17-4, 5-3 BE) rebounded nicely from its loss to Seton Hall and entered Tuesday’s game coming off an overtime road win against previously unbeaten Villanova.
The Friars started the game on a roll, going on an 11-0 run to take an early lead. A Remy Abell three with 6:49 left in the first half gave the Musketeers a lead that would last through the end of the game. Sophomore forward J.P. Macura’s two free throws would give Xavier its biggest lead at 17 with 7:22 remaining, but a late Providence run cut the lead to three with 1:19 left. Macura dropped the hammer, hitting a dagger three 13 seconds later to help secure a Xavier victory.
Player of the Week:
There really is not another option after senior forward James Farr’s performance in the past couple of games. Farr scored a career-high 24 against Seton Hall, and followed it up with 11 points in the first half against Providence. He also added four assists, three blocks and three steals between the two games.
Unlike last week when nearly the whole team struggled against Georgetown, several players played very well in against Seton Hall and Providence. Sophomore forward Trevon Blueitt scored 15 points in both games, while redshirt junior guard Myles Davis scored 21 points while tallying 15 assists and four steals across the two games.
They said it:
“We’re just a tough team. It’s a lot of things that people don’t see behind the scenes.” James Farr said in an interview on SportsCenter regarding what makes Xavier special. “We practice hard every day. Our coaching staff does a great job with us. We just kept believing, we never thought that we’re not one of the best teams in the country. We always had that thought coming into the season that we were one of the best teams in the country to compete with. We just put it all together this year, everyone’s bought in, and we’re just reaping the benefits right now.”
The Musketeers will travel to Chicagoland to take on the DePaul Blue Demons (7-12, 1-6 BE) Saturday at 2 p.m. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network, and it will be a rematch of a Jan. 12 game at Cintas in which Xavier rolled to an 84-64 victory over the Blue Demons. DePaul won its first conference game against Marquette this past weekend and will face Butler Wednesday night.
The Blue Demons are led by senior forward Myke Henry and junior guard Billy Garrett Jr., who are the only two Blue Demons scoring in double figures at 14.4 ppg and 13.9 ppg, respectively. Garrett, the 2013-14 Big East Freshman of the Year, has had some success against the Musketeers in the past but only managed five points (2-7 from the field) and four assists against Xavier in the last match-up. Henry played well in that game, scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds.