Early season tournaments used to be the bane of Xavier basketball’s existence. Around the time your stomach was full with turkey, stuffing, and apple pie, the team’s stomach was empty of wins. Before last year, they had not won an exempt tournament since 2008 when Sean Miller was head coach, and they had a 7-11 overall record in the Coach Mack era.
Suddenly, a light bulb went on. The Musketeers are now 6-0 in the last two tournaments and have claimed two titles…quite the turnaround I’d say.
Before we get into the game, let’s put this in some context. Last night, @DanaandVictory tweeted that this week, in which Xavier plays Northern Iowa twice, will be the Battle for the Cornsword.
I hopped on the good ole computer and pumped out a quick, rudimentary outline of the coveted trophy these two squads should be playing for:
Whether or not this comes to fruition in the form of 3D printing is yet to be determined, but the thought is there and for now that’s what counts.
With that in mind, the championship game of the Tire Pros Invitational was set.
Trevon scored the first seven points for Xavier as the offense got off to a bit of a shaky start. There were shades of Thursday’s nightmare against Missouri, but there would be no repeat performance Sunday night.
Northern Iowa is known for their prolific shooting ability from deep, and Xavier was getting torched by threes early. Then, the defense hit the “on” switch and it was all downhill from there for the Panthers’ offense.
Tied at 30 at halftime, the Musketeers STORMED out of the locker room. They ripped off a 12-0 run to take control and essentially never look back. The defense absolutely locked down; it was the best Xavier looked on the defensive end in a very long time. They rebounded well, closed out on shots, and forced turnovers. Northern Iowa rallied towards the end, but there would be no heartbreak for Xavier, who closed the game admirably and ended up winning 67-59.
Bluiett scored his 1,000th point in a Musketeer uniform tonight and deservedly won the Tire Pros MVP:
As you can see, Macura was also named to the All-Tournament team.
There were a couple of highlight dunks by the freshmen, including this one by Quentin Goodin that made the SportsCenter Instagram:
I said in the Tournament Preview post that Xavier should win this tournament, and win it they did. This was an impressive victory for the boys of Norwood, and this is the kind of game that can propel them into the rest of the non-conference schedule.
For now, the Cornsword is ours. Tire Pros Invitational Champions.