Xavier calms Storm, slays Pirates

Newswire photo by Sydney Sanders | Senior J.P. Macura was named the Big East Player of the Week after his season-high 27-point performance along with five rebounds and three assists against Seton Hall. He also had 16 points against St. John’s.

The men’s basketball team swept conference play last week with victories over St. John’s and Seton Hall.

The win against St. John’s notched head coach Chris Mack’s 203rd victory, making him the all-time win leader as a coach in Xavier history.

The final score against St. John’s was 88-82, and afterward Mack didn’t seem to want any of the attention. His postgame address to the fans lasted about 30 seconds at most, and his postgame press conference was no different.

“It’s humbling, it really is. When I first became a head coach at Xavier, I didn’t think about it at all, Mack said when asked about the milestone after the game. “You worry about the next game, the next day, and I’m not one of these guys that has long term goals, though maybe I should. It’s what we have to do tomorrow,” Mack said when asked about it after the game.

Mack attributed his victories not to himself but rather to his players.

“I think your players are the guys making baskets, giving up baskets tonight, getting rebounds. I’m very blessed to be the head coach at Xavier. I’m really honored, how many guys get to be at a place they wore the uniform?”

Mack, before anything else, noted how well the team played against St. John’s.

“Kerem (Kanter) played his best game in a Xavier uniform,” Mack said. “I thought Trevon (Bluiett) and J.P. (Macura) played extremely well. Naji (Marshall) gives us a different presence on the defensive end and Kaiser (Gates) has really embraced coming off the bench.”

Kanter scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Bluiett poured in a team high 23 points in addition to grabbing six rebounds. Macura also chipped in 16 points, three rebounds and four assists.

The Musketeers couldn’t celebrate long, though, as they faced a difficult test on the road against a ranked Seton Hall team going into the game. Xavier had never won at the Prudential Center, which added to the potential value a win could bring.

Although Mack doesn’t like to talk about his team’s resume for March very much, the one thing Xavier most notably lacked was a true road win against a ranked team.

A win would give Xavier just that and show the Musketeers could win tough road games.

It wasn’t the nicest looking win, but they got it. A nine-point, 73-64 victory, featured one of the best performances of Macura’s career.

The senior scored 27 points, one shy of his career high of 28. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists in addition to getting a steal. Macura made several highlight plays as well, including a corner three to give Xavier the lead late in the game and a putback dunk that effectively sealed the victory.

He earned Big East Player of the Week honors for his efforts against St. John’s and Seton Hall, averaging 21.5 points, 4 rebounds and 3.5 assists in those two contests. Macura also shot the ball extremely well, going 14-24 from the field and 6-10 from three-point range.

Bluiett also played a strong game against Seton Hall, scoring 15 points. He now sits at 1983 career points for the Musketeers and is only 23 points away from moving into third on Xavier’s all-time scoring list.

He’ll have two chances during the next week to reach those marks, first tonight at 6:30 p.m. against Marquette and then next Tuesday against St. John’s.

By: Donnie Menke ~Staff Writer~