This was one of those games to use as a tune-up, a means to an end in improvement before the impending top 10 showdown Saturday afternoon. A comfortable win for the Musketeers was expected, but the quality of the performance showed in the game was a step above. Coming into the night, we knew the Bison played slow and that AJ Jacobson was a good three point shooter. What happened in the game? North Dakota State worked the shot clock, but Jacobson only took one three and he missed. Come on now! Out here making my analysis look bad. Honestly though, it speaks to the suffocating defense of Xavier. The boys of Norwood forced 14 turnovers, had five steals, and out-rebounded the Bison 43-27.
Trevon Bluiett was Xavier’s leading scorer with 23 points, thanks to his three threes and 4-4 shooting from the charity stripe. A welcome sight was Malcolm Bernard, who has quietly been the glue guy for the team. Bernard poured in 10 points and was two rebounds away from a double-double. Sean O’Mara abused his man in the post, and JP Macura was his usual, aggressive self. Eight Xavier players scored en route to the victory.
Xavier shot over 45% from the perimeter and 48% from the field as a whole. They also tallied an assist on all but eight of their baskets, speaking to the team chemistry the Musketeers are developing. While there were some rough patches midway through the second half, there was nothing to seriously fret over per-say. It was a well-rounded game. Final score: Xavier 85, North Dakota State 55.
Now, let’s get into the Geu(d) stuff. One of the simple joys in the life of watching Xavier games is picking out one player on an opposing squad to jokingly discuss. Last year in the NCAA tournament, it was Joel Bolomboy on Weber State. Ladies and gentlemen, tonight, it was Deng Geu.
Tyrique Jones and Xavier nation, meet Deng. Mr. Geu, meet Xavier nation:
Sorry Tyrique, but credit is delivered where credit is due. South Dakota’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2014-2015, the redshirt-freshman was the only Bison player in double-figures, and he had 18 at that. He also had three blocks and even one three-pointer.
I apologize for my misspelling in this tweet, but the point remains:
Overall, this was a worse demolition than the two minutes after you got your plate of food last Thursday. This rivals the beatings Jason Bourne leveled on enemies in those cinematic masterpieces. Xavier improved to 7-0, while the Bison were sent out to pasture for the third time among five wins. Their football team might be one of the best FCS teams in the nation, but their basketball team was not on the same level.
You may be headed back to North Dakota Deng Geu, but we won’t forget you here in southwest Ohio.