Publish Date: 02/23/2020
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa
In a matchup of high importance, both teams started out the game tight, especially Xavier who were missing layups and generally playing with little control of their emotions. After the first four minutes of play, the Musketeers trailed 4-2 with their first basket not coming until three and a half minutes into the game when Naji Marshall took the ball to the hole to get within a basket at 4-2.
The next 5 minutes of game action saw the Musketeers trying to force the game while the Wildcats relaxed and controlled the tempo, being led by Justin Moore and Jermaine Samuels. The Muskies seemed to be forgetting they have guards in Scruggs and Tandy, and that Scruggs need to have the freedom to control the pace, but the ball is being taken out of their hands forced too much by Naji Marshall, who needs to let the game come to him more. With 9 minutes left in the half, the Wildcats lead 18-10.
Xavier came out of the timeout and KyKy Tandy immediately drives to the basket for the old fashioned three-point play but, as has often been the case this year, he failed to convert the free throw. Cole Swider answered though with a bucket from just inside the three-point line. The Muskies started to settle down and a lot of that comes with Tandy at the point. A Xavier run starts with a Marshall three-point shot and then a great pass from Tyrique Jones to Quentin Gooden, which cuts the Nova lead to 25-21 with 4:18 left.
Xavier then goes back to playing a little too loose with the ball and a big moment occurs when Tyrique Jones picks up his third foul with just over a minute to go. Xavier ends the half trailing 30-21 and neither team is playing particularly well on the offensive end of the floor.
The Musketeers came out for the second half much the way they played the first half, as the guard play has been almost non-existent. Right now Villanova just looks like the better team. Nova is controlling the tempo and hitting shots. Xavier looks so tight they are about to explode. With 4 minutes gone in the second half, the Wildcats are in control of the game 40-26.
Now the Muskies seem intent on getting Tyrique Jones involved and he quickly gets a basket and on the very next position, he draws a foul on Villanova. If the guards can control the tempo and run things through Jones inside it would seem to be the best way to get back in this game.
The Muskies get back in the game behind the tempo set by Paul Scruggs and the post play of Tyrique Jones, who scores three quick buckets to trim the Nova lead to 40-34 with 12:45 left.
Jermaine Samuels takes the game over for a while as he hits a layup and a three to stretch the Villanova lead to 14 points. What worked for Xavier to get them back in the game suddenly was abandoned as it so often is in these games this season. Naji Marshall has been non-existent in the second half for the most part, as it seems Tyrique Jones is being asked to win the game now. Xavier trails 53-39 with 6:27 left in the game.
The rest of the game was just more of the same, and from watching the game the only real conclusion you can come to at this point is that Villanova at this point in the season is just a better team than Xavier is.