This shapes up as a huge early-season matchup in the Big East. Xavier is in the middle of a three-game home-stand after a Big East season-opening loss at Villanova. Seton Hall is 2-0 in the conference with wins over Georgetown and Depaul.
Xavier came out strong on this night and after 5 minutes the Muskies led 9-4. From there on though, the rest of the half was largely a struggle for Xavier. The Pirates were crisper on offense and at times the Muskies looked lost on defense. Jason Carter kept the Muskies within shooting distance as he hit threes and attacked the basket. He was the only Muskie that played consistently through the first half.
The Pirates controlled the boards and seemed to get the majority of bounces in the first half. Myles Powell and Quincy McKnight led the Pirates in the first half as they combined for 23 points. The Muskies seemed to have problems defending the perimeter and were slow on switches. If the Muskies do not pick up the intensity they could be in for a long second half.
The second half was just more of the same for the Muskies who just couldn’t seem to get a bounce on the ball. They all seemed to go the way of the Pirates. Xavier spent most of the last ten minutes of the game trying to get off three points shots instead of running their offense. Naji Marshall got the Muskies as close as 7 down with back to back three-pointers with 5 minutes left. Marshall got hit on a baseline three-point attempt and made all three to pull Xavier within 6 with just over two minutes left. Then a full-court press led to another quick basket. Suddenly the Cintas Center is rocking as Xavier has pulled to 75-71 down with 1:55 left in the game.
The Muskies forced another Pirate turnover but gave it right back which led to a quick Pirates dunk to kill the Xavier rally. An acrobatic layup by Quincy McKnight pretty much put the final nail in the Muskies coffin. The Muskies never seemed to play with energy much of the night, but the Pirates came with their best and left Cincinnati with a 3-0 start to the Big East season.
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