Behind the strength of an excellent perimeter shooting night, the Xavier Musketeers defeated the Miami (OH) Redhawks on Wednesday night at the Cintas Center to advance to 4-0 on the season.
The Musketeers got another balanced scoring effort on their home floor, led by the season high 15 points, and 5 assists, of junior point guard Dee Davis.
Sophomore guard Semaj Christon was next with 13 points for Xavier, while also tallying 8 assists and 3 steals, while James Farr added 11 points and Matt Stainbrook chipped in 10.
Besides the double-figure scorers, Xavier also got 9 points from Justin Martin in one of the senior's most productive games of the season, while Brandon Randolph and Myles Davis each chipped in 6 points.
After a slow start, one that had head coach Chris Mack visibly upset with the Musketeers defensive effort, Xavier found themselves tied with Miami (OH) at 15-15 midway through the first half. The zone defense of Miami (OH) was able to slow Xavier down early, stopping the Musketeers from getting scoring opportunities around the rim.
At that point, however, the Musketeers began to get hot from the three-point line, a trend that would continue throughout the rest of the night.
Over the next ten minutes the Musketeers went on a 7-0 run and then later a 10-0 run, at one point holding the Redhawks for over four minutes without a field goal. Using some timely shooting, Xavier continued to extend the lead to double-digits, eventually taking a 36-24 advantage into the locker room for halftime.
The Musketeers then busted the game wide open in the early minutes of the second half, led by a more aggressive Semaj Christon.
After a Christon and-one layup at the 18:30 mark, Xavier had scorer the first five points of the half, and the lead had ballooned to 41-24.
From then on Xavier continued to play very well on the defensive end, eventually pushing the lead out to twenty points with 14:28 remaining at 46-26 after a Justin Martin three-point basket.
Over the final minutes of the game the Musketeers led comfortably, usually by more than twenty points, and at one point by as wide of a margin as 67-38 with 5:10 left after two Semaj Christon free throws.
The most impressive part of the performance for Xavier on Wednesday might have been the defensive effort on Redhawks star Reggie Johnson, who was held to just 5 points, 18 below his average, on 2-9 shooting.
Miami (OH) was led by the 10 points of sophomore guard Geovonie McKnight, their only double-figure scorer in the contest.
Looking through the box-score, the Musketeers dominated most of the key stats, including out-rebounding the Redhawks 42-25 and grabbing 14 offensive rebounds. The Musketeers were led in rebounding by both James Farr and Jalen Reynolds, with each post player tallying 11 boards on the night.
Coach Chris Mack will likely be happy with Xavier's 27 bench points, 20 assists and only 9 turnovers in the game, while the Musketeers also managed to improve at the foul line, converting 8/12.
For the game, Xavier shot an impressive 50.8% from the field, as well as 42% from the three-point line with 9 makes. On the other side, Xavier's stifling defense held Miami (OH) to just 37% shooting, also holding the Redhawks to 5/23 shooting from behind the three-point arc.
Xavier continues to improve on both ends, a good sign for their future this season, as the team now prepares for their next challenge. The Musketeers have a little bit of a break before facing Abilene Christian at the Cintas Center next Monday, 11/25, their final matchup before heading to the Bahamas for Battle-4-Atlantis tournament.
Note: Xavier was without the services of senior power forward Isaiah Philmore against Miami (OH). Philmore missed the game due to a wrist injury suffered at practice on Tuesday, and is being listed as day to day.