|I loves me some Dante.|
As the game ages into its second half, Kenny Frease becomes increasingly anonymous. With somewhere between 13 and 15 minutes left to go, Tu senses a shift in the game that necessitates or enables his emergence, and he steps up. He picks up a couple of field goals, then starts getting to the free throw line at will. If we're especially lucky as fans, we get to see Dante knock down one or two big threes. As the momentum inexorably shifts Xavier's way, we wonder why it had to be so close at half time.
This game followed that basic script, but with a couple of meaningful changes. The biggest was that Dante Jackson was, dare I say, Dantastic. In a game that he described on his Twitter as "championship game one of seven," the senior guard came to play. His 19-2-1 on 7-9/4-6/1-3 went a long way towards balancing out Mark Lyons' miserable afternoon (6-3-3 on 1-7/0-3/4-4, fouled out after 21 minutes). He hit three threes in the first half when Xavier was really struggling, and his lone trey ball in the second brought X within one during a 16-4 run that gave the Muskies the lead. A great game from Dante when his team needed him the most.
Big Kenny once again came out in dominant form in the first half, going for 12-6-0 on 5-7/0-0/2-2 shooting. While he only got two shot attempts in the second half (and missed them both), he stayed active on the boards with another six rebounds. He was also the only Muskie to avoid the turnover column on the stat sheet. Tu chipped in 20-7-3 on 5-11/3-7/7-10 shooting. As per his norm this year, 15 of his 20 came after the break.
Odds and ends:
-The last time Tu missed three free throws in a game was Nov. 22 against Old Dominion. That game was the fourth in which he had gotten 39+ minutes of playing time with a week.
-I didn't mention turnovers (other than Big Kenny's lack of them) because the entire team was abject. The Muskies totaled 20 turnovers - 14 from the starting guards - to only 10 assists on the day. Coach Mack will probably not be happy.
-Xavier out rebounded Duquesne 41-32, but the Dukes had a 15-11 edge on the offensive glass.
-Duquesne's 13-27 (48.1%) performance from the line helped change the shape of this game into Xavier's favor. Coming into the game, opponents had shot 76.5% from the stripe against X.
-Brad's full recap should be up sometime late tonight or early tomorrow morning; keep an eye out.
Next game: Wednesday, @St. Joseph's