Xavier coach Travis Steele, hoping to shake a slumping Musketeers team out of the doldrums, replaced Quentin Gooden with a big man Zach Freemantle. In the opening 5 minutes of the game Freemantle made his presence felt right away with a pair of free throws and a nice assist on a pass from the top of the key to Jason Carter in the post for a bucket. Naji Marshall then hit a deep three and after the first 4 minutes the Muskies held a 9-4 lead.
Naji Marshall seemed to be putting the team on his back, hitting shots and stealing the ball. Tyrique Jones then throws down a massive jam and Zach Freemantle’s defense is eliminating freshman big man Timothy Ighoefe. Freemantle’s addition to the starting lineup has seemed to energize the Muskies so far.
KyKy Tandy and Paul Scruggs seemed to have better ball movement to get much better shots for the entire team than they have been getting most of the year. A Paul Scruggs 3-point basket around the 6-minute mark stretched the Muskies lead to 26-11. The low post defense has been the big key to the game so far.
Max McClung kept the Hoyas somewhat in the game with a few baskets down the stretch, but this was the best first half the Muskies have played in a while. The Hoyas shot just 28.6% from the field for the half, while Xavier shot 42.9% and take a 35-23 halftime lead.
The second half started out spectacularly for the Muskies with an old-time alley-oop dunk by Tyrique Jones on a pass from Naji Marshall. From there the Muskies seemed to start rushing some things. Hoya guard Max McClung started to heat up and the Hoys had chopped four points off Xaviers’ halftime lead, trailing 39-31 with 15 minutes left in the game. The next 15 minutes could be a predictor in how the rest of the Muskies season will go.
KyKy Tandy made two plays, hitting a deep three from the key and then a driving layup to keep the Muskies lead at 9 points with 11:33 remaining in the game.
Freshman center Qudus Wahab started to make his presence felt in the game with a bucket and a free throw to keep the Xavier lead at 49-40 with 8:30 left in the game. KyKy Tandy extended the lead to 12 with 7:50 left in the game and Tandy has been a spark tonight for the Muskies.
With 3:41 left in the game, Xavier leads 62-49, led by KyKy Tandy and Naji Marshall’s 7-13 shooting from behind the three-point line. Two quick Hoyas buckets cut the Xavier lead to 62-53. The Muskies closed the win out 66-57 in a game that should not have been that close and the heroes of the night had to be KyKy Tandy, Naji Marshall, and Zach Freemantle.