Providence Friars (10-4) 56
#17 Xavier Musketeers (11-2) 82
That was a rough introduction to Big East conference play this year. The Big East is one of the top 2 or 3 conferences in all of college basketball the season, so things aren't going to get much easier for the Friars as the conference schedule continues. Xavier controlled things from the outset of the game and never took their foot off the gas, leading by 30 points for much of the second half.
It was a combination of the Friars leading men not contributing on offense and Xavier seemingly putting together a total complete game with contributors on both side of the floor. I don't want to get too much into the details of the game before going into the quick hits, so let's just do that.
- Let's start with Xavier. I didn't really get into the Friars' opponents in the non-conference schedule but I know these Big East players and coaches much better than the other non-conference teams, so I think it's a good idea to shed some light on them as well.
- Trevon Blueitt has taken the next step. He has jumped his scoring average up 4+ points in each of the past two seasons, from 11.0 to 15.1 to 19.2. He has improved his conditioning as well this season, trimming down and at the same time adding some muscle. His body is definitely more NBA-ready this season than it was last.
- Blueitt came into the game averaging 19 points a game and finished this game with a game-high 22 points on a very efficient 8-14 shooting. This was Blueitt's 8th game in which he has scored 20 or more points.
- Blueitt is known for his ability to shoot the long ball but was only 3-8 from distance in the game. He was able to find a variety of other ways to score including an impressive array of floaters and an ability to get to the rim.
- J.P. Macura is back and my hatred for him is right back to where it was last year. I'm going to be putting together my All-Hate team for this year and I can guarantee you he will be on this year's squad.
- Macura, last year's Big East 6th Man of the Year, does almost everything well. He's an annoyingly pesky defender who can frustrate an opposing players offensive game. You can't be a hated player from an opposing fan base if you aren't good. What's the saying? Fans don't hate nobodies.
- I mean, did you see that all white outfit he was wearing? Give me a break.
- Edmund Sumner might be the player on Xavier who's game translates best to the next level. Sumner is a stat sheet filler, who at 6'6'' is a matchup nightmare for any opposing point guard.
- Sumner finished the game with 13 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, a block, and a steal.
- Big guy Rashid Gaston didn't miss a shot all night, going 6 for 6 for 12 points and snagging 4 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action.
- Malcom Bernard was the only starter for the Musketeers to not shoot better than 50% from the floor, finishing the game 3-8.
- Xavier as a team shot 60.4% from the floor and 40% from three.
- Xavier dominated the boards, almost doubling up the Friars to the tune of a 38-20 rebounding advantage.
- The Musketeers also assisted on 22 of their 32 baskets.
- The only aspect of the game that Xavier wasn't basically perfect on was from the free throw line where they were just 66.7% (10-15). Fortunately for them, you don't really need free throws when you're up 30 points in the 2nd half.
- Onto Providence...
- Rodney Bullock had a season-low 2 points on just 1-11 shooting from the floor. Bullock was making good moves during the game but all his shots seemed to be rimming out. Not having anything go down looked like it got into Bullock's head as the Musketeers started to pull away. Bullock has now struggled offensively for 4 straight games, shooting just 13-50 (26%) over that stretch and only 2-18 (11%) from three.
- Bullock needs to score in order for this Friars team to have a shot in any Big East game.
- It doesn't help when both options 1 & 2 on your offense aren't contributing. Emmitt Holt had only 4 points and 1 rebound in the game. Bullock and Holt average a combined 31.6 points and 12.3 rebounds per game (including the Xavier game). They combined to 6 points and 4 rebounds against the Musketeers, basically your Murphy's Law game from your two big guns. Holt NEEDS to shot more than 4 times in a game.
- In a slight silver lining, Isaiah Jackson played really well, being uncharacteristically aggressive on offense with the absence of scoring coming from Holt & Bullock. Jackson dropped 17 points on 5-8 shooting from the floor in just 24 minutes of action.
- Isaiah attacked the rim and finished well when he got there, including this acrobatic finish.
- The attacking of Jackson also led to him getting to the line and connecting on 6-7 free throws.
- Jackson's 17 points were both a game-high for the Friars and a season-high for Sophomore. His career-high in points came his Freshman year at George Mason when he scored 22 against Wright State.
- Kyron Cartwright's stats don't look all that bad at the end of the day but he wasn't his usual pedal-to-the metal self pushing the ball that he normally is. Cartwright did have 8 points and 8 assists in the game but also had 4 turnovers. The length of Sumner is something that most point guards usually don't have to go against, so I don't think that those turnovers will pop up as much against the rest of the Big East point guards going forward for Cartwright, but they hurt in this game.
- This marks the 8th game this season where Cartwright has recorded at least 8 assists. Cartwright slipped mere percentage points (0.01%) back into 5th place in the nation in assists per game, although Harvard's Siyani Chambers who moved into 4th place has only played in 9 games compared to Cartwright's 13.
- Cartwright did have a nice drive against basically the entire Xavier team at the end of the first half.
- Jalen Lindsey had a nice game with 15 points 5-9 shooting and 3-5 from three.
- PC only had 13 total assists in the game compared to 12 turnovers. In the two losses in the last two games, Providence has only 2 more assists than turnovers.
- I was really surprised to see Ryan Fazekas as the fourth guy of the bench. He only played 10 minutes and didn't record a single field goal attempt in his time on the floor. If he is not chucking up threes, I'm not sure what he's doing out there at all then. He has to shoot more and force Cooley to play him more minutes. Shooting his is biggest strength, so let it fly Ryan.
- Kalif Young was the one Freshman who did not look scared of the moment. Young was active, aggressive, and played with some really high energy. He never takes plays off and was trying to get everyone on the Friars into the game whenever he was on the floor. Young had 5 points and 5 rebounds off the bench.
- Both Maliek White and Alpha Diallo got some early minutes but neither played particularly well in the game. They were a combined 2-9 from the floor with 2 assists and 2 turnovers in 28 minutes. They'll improve with more minutes against top competition like Xavier, it'll just take some time and adjustments.
Next Up, things don't get much easier as the Friars stay on road at Hinkle Fieldhouse to take on #13 Butler on New Year's Day at 3 PM. The game will be on CBS Sports Network.