Musketeers Prove Their Worth in First Road Test
Xavier followed up their dominant home wins with a challenging game at the Kohl Center against Wisconsin in which the Musketeers came away victorious, 80-70. The game was part of the Dave Gavitt Games, featuring matchups between teams from the Big East and Big 10. Xavier is now 2-0 in the Gavitt games with the Muskies' previous win coming on the road last season at Michigan.
The first half saw Xavier struggle to convert from distance but make up for it with efficient defensive rebounding and solid paint scoring. All-American Trevon Blueitt forced the issue and this led to a myriad of poor shots and negative results. However, JP Macura and Tyrique Jones came out aggressive by attacking the paint and kept Xavier in the game early. Kaiser Gates was able to get the perimeter game going with consecutive threes at the 8 minute mark to spark a run. Despite this, Wisconsin freshman guard Brad Davison was able to keep the game close with 10 first half points and the halftime score was knotted at 34-34 with no clear advantage.
The second half began with much of the same as the first. Perimeter shooting, outside of Kaiser Gates, continued to be an issue, and foul calls stunted any run the Musketeers were scheming to make. However, Bluiett was able to catch fire with a few strong buckets to keep Xavier advantaged on the offensive end and that gave the Muskies an 8 point lead around the 10 minute mark. From there, poor shot selection and Badger efficiency, by Ethan Happ especially, led to the lead being cut to 4 with 5 minutes remaining in the game.
After a 1 free throw trip for Naji Marshall, Aleem Ford enabled Wisconsin to tie the game with a large 3, assisted by Happ, with 4 minutes left in the game. Macura was able to stay aggressive and keep the Badger defense on edge. DíMitrik Trice gave the Badgers a 66-64 lead with 2:43 left but a pair of free throws tied the game at 66.
Then the All-American took over. Trevon Blueitt hit back to back shots to give Xavier the 72-66 lead with under a minute left. Tyrique Jones buried two free throws and Macura converted a monster alley-oop to ice the game and give Xavier the 80-70 win.
The Musketeers asserted that they are to be reckoned with tonight through a dominant road win against a Big Ten top-5 team. This win will be on the forefront of their resume in March and gives the Muskies an impressive 3-0 record leading into a home bout with Hampton on the Monday, November 20. Game time is set for 8:30 pm.