In what turned out to be a game that lived up to all the hype before hand, the #7 Xavier Musketeers defeated Big East rival #10 Providence on the road Tuesday night. The game started on a good note for Xavier climbing to a quick 7-0 lead before Providence decided to show up. Shortly after the 7-0 start for Xavier, Providence went on their own 13-0 run, making for a crazy start to the game.
After the two teams stopped breaking out in scoring runs, Xavier essentially locked down on defense forcing Providence to go about six minutes without a made field goal. During that time, Xavier produced enough offense to eventually take the lead back by courtesy of senior James Farr. The hard working big man was on fire making every shot he took including a huge three. The offense and rebounding of Farr allowed Xavier to regain momentum.
Although the first half wasn’t bad (Xavier ended up leading going into halftime), Coach Chris Mack appreciated the second half much more. The key to the second half, and ultimately the game, was another big man from Xavier: Jalen Reynolds. Reynolds was matched up with Bentil whenever he was on the court, and in the start of the second half he made a statement to Providence’s big man. Reynolds dropped a shoulder into Bentil and scored a nice bucket while proceeding to, as the team would say, “Flex on ‘em.” Reynolds finished the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds and ended up staying on the court for 31 minutes.
The second half progressed smoothly until Providence started to pull close, and with just over a minute to go the game was tight. In the final minute, Xavier had the ball and a 68-65 lead; Coach Chris Mack wanted a timeout, but instead sophomore JP Macura decided to take a deep three and sunk it, giving Xavier a six-point lead with under 50 seconds to go. The shot by JP might not have been what Mack wanted, but after the game he said, “JP… that’s a little of what he has in him.” That shot turned out to be the dagger for Providence, as they could not come back from that point. The big players for Xavier this game were Myles Davis with 13 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds, Jalen Reynolds with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 1 block, and as always Trevon Bluiett with 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Surprising freshman stud point guard Edmond Sumner only had 1 point and 3 assists, but that truly shows how deep this team is when arguably their best players have little impact against a top 10 team.
Overall, the game seemed like a typical Big East matchup – hard fought and close to the end while two teams battled hard. The atmosphere in Providence seemed great as their fan section filled up for the top 10 matchup. This was a big win for Xavier on the road that helped the team gain a little more confidence after their loss to Georgetown a week ago. Xavier plays next on Saturday, January 30th at DePaul.