Saturday, January 30, 2016

No. 7 Xavier overcomes a cold start to defeat DePaul, 86-65

                               Photo Credit: Geno Green

Fresh off a 75-68 road win over No. 10 Providence on Jan. 26, the No. 7 Xavier Musketeers found themselves away from the Cintas Center once more on Saturday against the DePaul Blue Demons.

Despite an 0-of-8 start from the field, Xavier (19-2, 7-2 BIG EAST) defeated DePaul (7-14, 1-8 BIG EAST), 86-65 at the Allstate Arena behind a 29-7 run, which spanned two halves.

Musketeers coach Chris Mack credited the adjustments made by Xavier's front court by adjusting their gameplay on Tommy Hamilton in the perimeter after scoring 13, on 3 three-point makes in the first half.

"Fortunately, we were able to figure out to put our four man on Tommy, but the way we finished the first half and our energy level to start the second put DePaul on their heels," Mack said. 

"Truthfully, it wasn't much of a game after that, given our quick start in the second half and our team has been doing that lately."

Xavier's bench provided a spark with a 42-12 advantage on DePaul and down 11-2 with 14:18 left in the first half, Mack knew a change of pace was needed.

Insert Larry Austin Jr. into the equation.

Austin Jr. came off the bench and put together an all-around effort, finishing with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists in 17 minutes.

"I made sure that we had energy and all of our other guys fed off of it as a result," Austin Jr. said.

J.P. Macura also scored 12 in the win and gave credit to Austin Jr. for making Xavier's offense run with ease.

"[Larry] had a great game today and by talking to his teammates during practice, it translated in the game," Macura said.

Three other Musketeers finished in double figures, highlighted by Trevon Bluiett's team-high 15, on 6-of-10 from the field.

Mack talked about Bluiett's 13 second half points, which helped Xavier pull away from DePaul.

"Trevon seems like a second half guy lately, but he's such a focal point of the other team," Mack said. "They are really loaded to the ball and when he catches it. I was happier more with his defense on [Myke Henry] because his offense will always be there."

Billy Garrett led DePaul in the loss with a game-high 18 points, on 7-of-12 shooting, but finished with a game-high four turnovers.

Game Recap:

DePaul opened the game on a 9-0 run in the first 4:24, but the welcome would be worn out in an instant.

Despite coming into the game with a conference-high 76.9 PPG, Xavier's first basket did not come until James Farr's layup at 15:36 of the first half.

DePaul controlled the lead for the most of the first half and the final bucket came on a Garrett Jr. layup to make it 32-25. 

Xavier would counter and begin its 29-7 run over 8:23 in a two-half span.

DePaul coach Dave Leitao complemented Xavier's ability to use its players in the right spots.

"[Xavier] plays its roles well and are balanced," Leitao said. They can go 9 to 10 deep and make positive contributions not just in the scoring column, but in other ways."

During Xavier's extended run late in the first half, Joe Hanel and Jalen Reynolds looked to exchange words with one another.

Reynolds left the ruckus as Hanel appeared to continue the conversation and would be assessed a technical foul, which turned into a four-point play for Xavier, with Davis and Reynolds making two free throws each.

Edmond Sumner's layup towards the end of the first half put to Musketeers ahead of the Blue Demons 42-33— an 18-point turnaround from earlier in the stanza.

The run poured into the second half as Xavier's lead rose to as many as 26 and would not look back the rest of the way.

Looking Ahead:

DePaul returns to action on Feb. 2 as No. 10 Providence comes to town for an 8 p.m. tip, while Xavier hosts St. John's for a 5:30 p.m. start on Feb. 3.

Both games can be seen on FS1.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.