A few nights after the Musketeers escaped with a win against Lehigh, Xavier looked like a completely different team on Monday night in their 86-53 romping of Buffalo.
The big story was the defense, which stepped up in more ways than one in the win. After allowing Lehigh to shoot 50 percent from the floor and almost 40 percent from three, the Bulls shot 31 percent from the field in one of the longest games we will (hopefully) see all year. Buffalo only made five two-point field goals, including a mere eight points in the paint.
The slow play was due to a ref show from start to finish that saw 59 fouls called between both teams. 38 were in favor of the Musketeers, but the fans were unhappy either way. Boos were heard on every whistle down the stretch, no matter who benefited from the whistle.
Freshmen Quentin Goodin and Tyrique Jones looked like different players from Friday, as Goodin chipped in 11 points and four assists and Jones lead the team with his 11 rebounds. He also impressed on defense, including a pair of blocks.
Goodin, who was criticized by Mack for playing “scared” in the opener, looked aggressive and confident on the hardwood.
“I had a meeting with Coach Mack and Coach Steele after the first game, and I told them I wasn’t scared,” Goodin said. “So tonight I went out and played loose, like the player they recruited me as.”
Jones was upset with himself after the Lehigh game for only grabbing one board.
“I made sure every ball was mine tonight,” Jones said.
In addition to Jones, the other bigs, Rashid Gaston and Sean O’Mara, played well. O’Mara found early foul trouble and was limited to 16 minutes, but Gaston posted a respectable nine point, seven rebound performance against a lengthy Buffalo squad.
The Musketeers were also able to limit the turnovers after 20 turnovers in the opener. They only gave nine away tonight.
JP Macura led the scoring for Xavier, tallying 18 points. He shot only 4-11 from the field but was the main beneficiary of Buffalo’s foul trouble. He went a perfect 8-8 from the charity stripe.
Xavier will still need to improve on their three-point defense moving forward, as Buffalo shot 37 percent from deep.
Another bright spot from the evening was that senior Tim Stainbrook, a former walk-on, scored the first points of his career after drilling a three late in the game. Mack said in the postgame presser that he has all the confidence in the world in Stainbrook, who is the next guy up if early foul trouble or another injury hits the Musketeers.
Xavier is back in action on Thursday when they take on Missouri in the Tire Pros Invitational in Orlando.