Muskies Down St. John's
By Andy Mac Williams, 1/6/2021

Xavier TEAM 99 overcame a few rough spots through the first 31 minutes(0-12 from "3"-19 turnovers) and found a way to put a way to solve hyper-aggressive St Johns at Cintas 69-61 Wednesday night. Early foul trouble limited top scorers Paul Scruggs and Zach Freemantle to 3 1st half points. St Johns pressing defense made XU's strong passing offense choppy. The Red Storm upped the tempo and killed Muskies off the dribble. X trailed 27-21 w/ 4:12 left before halftime but Travis Steele switched to soft press back to a morphing zone defense. Muskies didn't shoot the lights out but went on a 6-0 run and tied St Johns 27-27 at the half. 2nd half-STJ led 50-46 w/ 9:30 left and Steele went zone again. X embarked on a 6 minute 16-1 run-led 62-51 w/ 3:30 remaining and won it 69-61.

A series of tough rough competitive practices in the wake of last week's 85-68 loss to Seton Hall set the stage for much better defense(61 points allowed-St Johns shot just 36%FGs) and dominating inside play(57-40 XU on the glass-21-8 Muskie edge in FT scoring).

Xavier hadn't gone without making a "3" since February 2000 vs Dayton (almost 21 years ago-spanning about 700 games). Muskies powered through it-controlled tempo and ground up fly boy Johnnies in the paint.

Steele hardly subbed the final 9 minutes w/ the game slowed down and the line-up working. Two Muskie Frosh had break-out games. Colby Jones scored a career high 16(6-10 FGS) w/ 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 28 minutes. Colby drove it well and helped w/ press break.

He and Frosh PG Dwon Odom played a lethally effective 2 man game(make it 3 man w/ Paul Scruggs). Odom scored 11 w/ 5 boards and pestering defense. His alley oop slam dunk finish off a Scruggs' lob put X up 65-57 w just over a minute left.

Scruggs attacked the rim w/ his assortment of scoops and double clutch shots(10 points-4 rebounds-3 assists after a slow 1st half). Jason Carter played w/ grit and an edge-his best game as a Muskie( 11 points-career high 16 rebounds) and a strong record on 50-50 balls. Freemantle toughed out 10 boards and got all 5 of his points at FT line.

BIG Bryan Griffin played a ton down the stretch and was HUGE(7 points-8 rebounds-2 blocks and a key steal in just 14 minutes). Heavy impact w/ Freemantle double teamed and Ben Stanley out after bumping a knee.

Stanley is apparently OK. His bulk and inside strength will be needed Sunday vs Bully Boy Providence at Cintas(11AM-FOX).

X improves to 2-2 BIG EAST and 9-2 overall. St Johns is 1-4 BE, 6-6 0verall.

Around BIG EAST:

Seton Hall slides to 3rd BE(5-2). Butler roared back from 9 down w/ 14 to play to sink Georgetown 63-55 at Hinkle. Jair Bolden broke a 55-55 tie late for BU w/ a corner "3". Frosh guard Chuckie Harris led Bulldogs w/ 18. Butler is now 2-3 BE(7th). G-town is 10th BE(1-5). XU at #7 rated

Creighton crushed Seton Hall 89-53 in Omaha. Blue Jays knocked down 13 "3s" and outrebounded HUGE SBU 34-29. CU has won 5 in a row and are now solo 2nd in BIG EAST(5-1) behind COVID idled Villanova(3-0) and on the shelf at least until Jan 15th at UConn. Seton Hall slides to 3rd BE(5-2).

Butler roared back from 9 down w/ 14 to play to sink Georgetown 63-55 at Hinkle. Jair Bolden broke a 55-55 tie late for BU w/ a corner "3". Frosh guard Chuckie Harris led Bulldogs w/ 18. Butler is now 2-3 BE(7th). G-town is 10th BE(1-5).

XU at 2-2 BIG EAST is solo 6th w/ a chance to climb over 5th place Providence(3-2) Sunday at Cintas. X wins 69-61 without its fastball( no made "3s"-falling back on a zone defense). Winning time line-up featured two Frosh(Colby Jones and Dwon Odom plus transfer Bryan Griffin). Depth 2-2 BIG EAST is solo 6th w/ a chance to climb over 5th place Providence(3-2) Sunday at Cintas. X wins 69-61 without its fastball( no made "3s"-falling back on a zone defense). Winning time line-up featured two Frosh(Colby Jones and Dwon Odom plus transfer Bryan Griffin). Depth and flexibility win the day. Scouting info on PC coming up later this week.




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