Because my current living situation doesn't afford me the luxury of cable, there is a certain amount of games that I'm not able to see played. Thanks to the miracle of the internet, however, I can still access the box score and provide some less nuanced analysis of the game. The live gamecasts of cbssports.com, espn.com, and the Enquirer's Shannon Russell, as well as Ms. Russell's blog and post-game recaps, are invaluable resources in this kind of game reconstruction.
This was a game where Xavier needed to take care of business against a weaker opponent, and they did. This time it was Xavier's veteran guards who stepped up and led the run that put the game away. After UMass's Gary Correia hit a three to tie the game with just under ten minutes left, Tu and Dante combined for 16 of the points (and 3 assists) on the 21-4 Xavier tear that ended the half and functionally did the same for the game.
Guard depth is still a concern for the Muskies, who only got seven guard minutes off the bench today, but Jordan Latham is gaining Coach Mack's confidence at the forward position. The 6'8" freshman got 14 minutes off the bench today, most of any reserve. He didn't score and only shot once, but he blocked a couple of shots and contributed a rebound and assist.
Tu Holloway continues to be the heart and soul of the team, tonight getting 19-5-8 on 5-12/3-8/6-7 shooting with only 2 turnovers. When his play is augmented by Good Cheek (15-2-3 on 5-9/1-2/4-6 with 3 steals and 1 turnover) like it was tonight, Xavier has an absolutely dynamic backcourt combo. Dante's 3-6 from behind the arc doesn't hurt, either.
When judged by either points surrendered or shooting stats, Xavier had another great defensive night. UMass - not a good shooting team to begin with - shot 17-49/6-23/10-15 on the game, good for .347 from the floor, .261 from three, and .667 from the line. Muskie opponents have made 31 of their last 106 FGA, a number that has to warm the cockles of Coach Mack's heart.
Odds and ends:
-Every Xavier starter scored in double figures tonight.
-X got 45 minutes off the bench; the reserves scored eight points, had eight boards, and picked up a couple of assists.
-Tu, Cheek, and Big Kenny were the only Xavier players with more than one assist, but the team still tallied 16 assists to only 7 turnovers.
-Stay tuned for a full recap from Brad.
Next game: v. UD, 8pm Saturday.