X-Men Thump Montana Grizzlies
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier's offense took a huge step forward in Friday's 86-64 thumping of Montana at SOLD-OUT Cintas. Muskies are off to a 2-0 start. Sean Miller labeled hi team's performance "unselfish" and "balanced". The numbers don't lie. XU shared the ball(23 assists on 32 FGs). Four players scored in double figures(w/ 3 more scoring 7 each). 9 guys hit the score sheet. 1st half shooting had to be in near record territory( 77% FG-83% FTs-5 for 7 "3s"). The start bordered on flawless-the ball pinged around-X made its 1st 6 shots and led 18-12 5 minutes in.
KyKy Tandy earned his 2nd start. After scraping the "rust off"(Tandy's words) in Game#1), KyKy shot lasers(4-5 from "3"-2 for 2 FTs) for 14 points plus 4 rebounds in 23 minutes. The net barely moved when he launched. String music!! Tandy hardly played last season. Two seasons back he sat the bench most of the time. This is the beginning of a major reclamation project-fueled by KyKy's hard work and a new coaching staff's motivation. He's improving on "D" diving on the deck making plays. Tandy had a breakaway mid-way thru 2nd half and unselfishly gave the ball up to Zach Freemantle for a thunder dunk. Big
Zach had a strong game(18 points on 8-11 FG plus 4 assists and 2 blocks). He's making all those tweener 6 to 12 footers-hooks and put backs he's so good at. Coach Miller really liked his defense vs Montana's star mobile 6-9 Josh Banaan. Free banged w/ him inside and stayed in front of him on the dribble.
Sean loved the amped crowd.
"Amazing atmosphere again-electric-I don't know how many points this home court is worth-but I'm guessing a lot."
Miller wasn't so high on Xavier's 1st half defense (37 points allowed - shot 56% FG and made six "3s").
"We overhelped on "3s"-we weren't smart or responsible. We counseled them aggressively at halftime and then limited Montana to 9 FGs in 2nd half."
The Frosh Des Claude and Kam Craft were much better in Game#2. Claude ran the point w/ vigor in half #2 (7 points-3 assists-0 turnovers). His defense was smothering and physical. He showed a determined speed dribble and triggered the fast break well. Craft scored 4 and trashed the offensive board well again. He just missed a corner "3" and easily could have scored 9 or 10 w/ all his hard work around the basket.
Zach and Jack combined for 6 assists-rare for BIGs. They find the open man and pass so well between themselves. Colby Jones is a stealth killer(12 points-only 6 shots but 6-6 FTs plus 5 assists and a plus 22). XU draws fouls and knocks down FTs (14-19). Skip Prosser was claimed you win 95% of the time when you make more FTs than the other guy attempts. X made 14. Montana shot just 13 and they usually shoot 25/game.
Drawing fouls on offense and not fouling on defense is a beautiful formula. It's a hallmark of Sean Miller teams. Free throws are not sexy but that spread between points you get at FT line and points you give up is vital. If you are a BIG PLUS, it's GOLDEN.
XU plays Fairfield Tuesday at Cintas(9 PM-FS2). Indiana is 6 days off (Friday Nov. 18 at Cintas-6 PM on FS1).
BIG EAST is 16-1 so far. Villanova lost 68-66 at Temple last night. Owls hit two FTs w/ 1.1 seconds left. Nova has dominated Philadelphia BIG 5 Hoops since 2014(36-2). The only other loss came vs Penn in 2019. The sky is not falling without Jay Wright. Kyle Neptune is highly capable. Nova is looking for a PG. Star frosh Cam Whitmore is out w/ broken thumb. Bullish G Justin Moore is rehabbing a ruptured Achilles sustained in April Final 4.