by Tim Daniel
Though the Jonas Hayes era will be short-lived, the run is off to a good start.
With a change in the starting lineup putting guard Adam Kunkel in over Zach Freemantle, Xavier was able to take the fight to the Florida Gators to avenge their loss in the 2020 Charleston Classic Title game.
Though Xavier had to overcome a rough shooting night, The Musketeers managed to hold the Gators to 6/30 shooting from deep including just 1/19 in the second half.
Nate Johnson lead all scorers with 16 points, also picked up five rebounds, and was 7/9 from the free-throw line. Xavier also had double-digit scoring days from Jack Nunge with 12, Colby Jones with 11, and Dwon Odom scoring ten points the same amount as Zach Freemantle.
The painful part of the game was senior leader Paul Scruggs suffering an injury while recovering a loose ball. Scruggs was helped off the court by Xavier assistants. Scruggs later walked back to the bench on crutches to a standing ovation from the Cintas crowd and Xavier Faithful.
With an insane week of ups and downs, Xavier was able to put together a solid performance, including a dominant second half to pick up their big win over Florida and advance to the Elite 8 of the NIT tournament, where they will host the Vanderbilt Commodores at the Cintas Center for the final home game of the season. If Xavier wins, they will be in the NIT's Final Four and will play at Madison Square Garden for their last two games of the season.