St John's Storms the Musketeers at Carnesecca, 81-66
(Photo by Noah Garel)
Xavier headed to St. John's tonight to start Big East play, and instead watched Rick Pitino's team handedly give their coach his first Big East win since 2013 and his first win in his new role.
The Johnnies started the game on an 8-0 run before Xavier could even get on the board. Lazar Djokovic hit a 3 for Xavier to get their first basket of the night. Sean Miller's team was able to fight hard and compete throughout the half, cutting the deficit to four points but weren't ever able to capitalize and get the points needed to take a lead. Quincy Olivari, who came in on a huge scoring streak only managed to get two shots in the first half as St. John's would not allow him to get any space.
While Olivari was the main focus for St. John's on defense, Desmond Claude was able to take advantage, and keep his team in the game with a game high fourteen points in the half. On the other end, St. John's balanced scoring led to an impressive 50% shooting from the floor and 45% from three-point range while also forcing nine first-half turnovers on defense leading to carrying an eight-point lead into the half 44-36.
The second half was pretty nightmarish for Xavier. Within the first media timeout the Johnnies expanded their lead to fifteen points with the Musketeers only points in that time being two made free-throws by Olivari.
Coming out of the first war of the second half, things didn't get better for Xavier as they started the half 2-17 from the floor. Claude continued his solid game, but the rest of the team had trouble helping the fight to get back into the game. Claude ended the night with a 21 points, twelve rebounds performance.
This performance continues the Jekyll and Hyde season Xavier has had so far, now sitting at 6-6 overall and 0-1 to start Big East play. Xavier returns to the court on Saturday afternoon at home vs Seton Hall. The Pirates started their Big East play tonight with a big win over #5 UCONN by 15 points. Tip-off will be at 2 PM.