Men’s hoops split Big East games

Newswire photo by Sydney Sanders | Trevon Bluiett scored 26 points against Villanova as he surpassed David West to become the second-leading scorer in program history.

Some days you’re the bug, and some days you’re the windshield.

Wednesday night against Seton Hall, especially in the first half, Xavier was the windshield on a car flying through a country road in the middle of the summer.

While things got dicey in the second half because of defensive lapses and a plethora of fouls, the Musketeers were able to hold on for a 102-90 win.

This was Xavier’s 12th win in conference play, and it gave the team a game-and-a- half lead on the Villanova Wildcats for first place in the Big East.

All of this is to say, that on a nine-game winning streak, Xavier was feeling confident about its chances in taking on the four-time defending Big East regular season champions on Saturday.

The magic number for Xavier to win the conference title outright was four, meaning any combination of Xavier wins and Villanova losses adding up to four would do the trick. Should Xavier win Saturday afternoon, that number would go down to two and would set up the possibility that Xavier could clinch it at home on Senior Night against Providence.

Villanova entered Cintas Center with different plans, and Xavier was very much the bug as opposed to the windshield.

Having only lost to Xavier one time since the Big East formed, the Wildcats have proven their dominance over the Musketeers. Xavier had a chance to change that narrative, but Villanova saw to it that was not the case.

Villanova sank contested three after contested three en route to splashing 11 triples in the first half alone. It seemed like no matter what Xavier did defensively, Villanova’s shots would fall.

In 11 matchups since the new Big East formed, Villanova has averaged 11.5 threes per game on 41.4 percent from beyond the arc against Xavier.

Its made 11 or more in seven of the 11 games and has at least eight in all of them. It finished with 16 on Saturday, which was a record number for any Xavier opponent in the history of the program.

“If they shoot the ball the way they did today, it will take a monumental effort to beat them,” Mack said. “When it’s going in, they’re a tough team to knock off. They really are.”

Xavier rallied from its 14-point halftime deficit to cut it to three at one point in the second half, but it never got closer than that. Villanova battled through foul trouble to emerge with the 95-79 victory.

Not to be lost in the result of the game is that Trevon Bluiett entered the contest needing 19 points to pass David West for second place on Xavier’s all-time scoring list. He finished with 24 and will now likely sit there behind Byron Larkin’s seemingly insurmountable lead.

“I’ve said all the things I can say about Tre and more,” Mack said. “He’s been fun to coach, and I have no doubt on Monday when he shows up for practice he’ll be ready to go again.”

Xavier now closes the regular season with three very winnable games—Georgetown on the road, Providence at home on Senior Night and DePaul on the road.

Should the Musketeers win all three, they will guarantee themselves at least a share of the Big East regular season title.

By: Paul Fritschner ~Staff Writer~