Newswire photo by Sydney Sanders | Freshman forward Naji Marshall was named the Big East Freshman of the Week for his 10-point performance on Saturday against Creighton. Last week, he also scored 13 points in the loss to Villanova.
After two consecutive losses in Big East play, the Xavier Musketeers looked to bounce back against the No. 25 ranked Creighton Blue Jays. Xavier dominated Creighton in a decisive 92-70 victory.
With the win, head coach Chris Mack tied former Xavier head coach Pete Gillen for the most all-time victories with 202 wins.
The energy swirled around Cintas Center as Xavier harnessed the home crowd’s excitement. The student section provided a jolt to the atmosphere of the arena in the first home game after winter break.
The Musketeers broke out their throwback uniforms, coined the “Running Man” jerseys, for Saturday afternoon’s tilt against Creighton, and they certainly played like a classic Xavier team.
Xavier’s top scorer, senior guard Trevon Bluiett, was sensational in the win, dropping a team-high 24 points with 15 of them coming from three-pointers. He also tallied five rebounds and dished out two assists.
Junior forward Kaiser Gates came off the bench and provided a spark on offense with 16 of his own points while going 5-7 from beyond the arc. He grabbed seven rebounds, with two of those being offensive boards.
“I think it was a great win for us,” Gates said after the game. “I just wanted to come out here and play hard…I was a little bit more aggressive…and I just have to keep building on that.”
Freshman forward Naji Marshall, who started just his second game of the season, contributed 10 points, three rebounds and an assist.
“When our defensive intensity is good and we play hard on the defensive end and rebound…it just makes it easier on the offensive end,” Marshall commented after the game. He was named the Big East Freshman of the Week on Monday.
Senior graduate transfer Kerem Kanter, who also started on Saturday, was a force in the paint with 12 points and eight rebounds. Saturday’s game marks Kanter’s third consecutive double-digit showing in the early part of Big East action.
Senior forward Sean O’Mara went 5-6 from the floor and tacked on 12 points and four rebounds. Senior guard J.P. Macura was a jack-of-all-trades with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Mack was pleased with the performance of his Xavier team and said, “I thought our effort was remarkable today, and we just got to figure out a way to bottle that up and bring it every single night.
“It just started with our defensive effort. It was really good, and it was where it needed to be. And I thought because of that, our offense was quicker, smarter. It was better, more connected.”
Mack also spoke about his respect for the Creighton basketball program, saying, “It’s a really good team that we beat, one of the best offensive teams in the country. A team that really spreads you from the three-point line at every position.”
Xavier now moves to 4-2 in conference play and 16-3 overall.
Its next contest is tonight at Cintas Center, when the Musketeers look to win their second straight home game against St. John’s. Tipoff is slated for 8:30 p.m.
By: Luke Feliciano ~Sports Editor~