November basketball has its fair share of upswings and downturns, but Xavier had one of its best showings of the young season at its conclusion.
The Musketeers cruised to an 87-62 victory, exploring its depth while sharing the wealth with contributions across the board.
Lipscomb stuck around for most of the opening period, but Xavier started to secure a foothold of the lead with four minutes left in the first half.
Despite a sluggish start to the game, the Musketeers earned their largest lead of the half at 40-26 and closed on a 14-2 run. From that point on, it was all Xavier as it only increased its lead.
“It was good kind of get everyone out there, get everybody a little playing time (and) see what guys can do,” head coach Travis Steele said.
Xavier shined in many statistical facets – 33 bench points, 24 points off turnovers and 21 team assists.
Several Xavier players logged minutes throughout the game and 10 that touched the floor scored. Additionally, four Musketeers including Tyrique Jones, Naji Marshall, Paul Scruggs and Zach Freemantle had double-digit point totals.
That was a positive sign for a Xavier team that is comprised of a mix of veterans and newcomers.
“I thought our shot selection overall was better,” Steele said. “I thought we had better player movement and ball movement which I thought led to some really good shots … we gotta continue to find the open guy, and if we do that, we have that mentality and I think we’ll be able to score the ball pretty well.”
After being held out from the onset of the season by a foot injury, freshman guard KyKy Tandy saw his first minutes in a Xavier uniform. He finished with nearly 14 minutes of action.
Lauded for his overall scoring ability, Tandy displayed his spark plug potential, pulling up from deep and drilling it on his first field goal attempt.
“It was kind of awkward because I’ve been out for so long,” Tandy, who finished with five points, said. “It just felt great to be out with my brothers.”
Freshman forward Daniel Ramsey, who has been limited because of a concussion, also saw the floor for the first time in his Xavier career. Like Tandy, he also converted his first shot attempt.
The Musketeers, whose most apparent weakness has been perimeter shooting, showed improvement in their long-range scoring by shooting 33 percent from 3-point range.
With a roster chock full of drivers and post players, the ability to shoot the 3-pointer makes Xavier a more complete team offensively – to complement a characteristically stout defense.
All of Bryce Moore’s six shot attempts were from 3-point range, and he was successful on three of them.
“Just taking what the defense gives me,” Moore said. “If their hands aren’t up, I’m going to shoot with confidence and knock it down. From there, just play off that, make something happen and make a play for my team.”
While Xavier bookended November on a high note, it enters December next Wednesday against Green Bay at a critical juncture – with the Crosstown Shootout next weekend and Big East play beginning at the end of the month.