by Noah Francis
The last time these teams faced each other at Cintas, the Red Storm defeated the Muskies by 13 points last year. This year, it was quite the opposite.
(Photo provided, Noah Francis)
Xavier picked up right where they left off on Wednesday with a quick bucket from Jerome Hunter, who got the start again in the absence of injured Zach Freemantle. They converted on six of their first seven possessions, shot 60% from the field in the first half, and entered halftime with a 49-30 lead. Xavier never looked back and finished with a 25-point win. Five Musketeers finished in double figures to lead the balanced attack.
“We got five guys on the court that can score at all times,” said Nunge. Xavier displayed that sentiment with 26 assists and 15 three-pointers.
For the Red Storm, three players were in double figures, including Big East Freshman of the Week AJ Storr and Dylan Addae-Wusu leading the way with 14 points each. St. John’s played with great intensity but shot a mere 39% from the field and couldn’t get anything substantial going offensively. After the game was tied at 0-0, St. John’s trailed the Muskies the whole game.
Step-up Performance: The 6’6 freshman guard Kam Craft was subbed in early with 12:38 left in the first half and made his mark on the game with a step-up jumper in the paint. He totaled eight points on the night. With the Big East tournament now a month away, look for Craft to have a larger impact on Xavier’s offense. “I believe that he can be a part of what we’re doing moving forward,” coach Sean Miller said.
Heat Check: Led by guard Souley Boum, Xavier went on a 6-2 run to start the second half, out-scoring the Red Storm 15-5 during the stretch. Boum hit three straight threes and Nunge found the bottom of the net from the top of the key.
Both teams face Butler in Indianapolis next week, with (14-10) St. John’s matching up on Tuesday and (19-5) Xavier getting the week off til Friday.