Madison Square Garden, NY. –Xavier waltzed in MSG with a huge chip on their shoulders ready to play DePaul in the first round of the 2017 Big East Tournament. Much talk about DePaul University Billy Garrett Jr. who been selected at the Big East Men’s Basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Xavier (20-12) beat DePaul (9-23) 75-64 in the opening round of the Big East Tournament in front of a loud crowd of 14, 830 at “The World Famous Arena.”
DePaul knew coming into the game if they had any shot of winning they would have to control super talented forward Trevon Bluiett in the paint area and on the boards.
“Two points of emphasis today. One about the game. I thought their ability to come right after us at the beginning of the second half and I think we made the first four, five shots. They got point blank in what we were doing defensively started to break down because they drove. They drove and kick. And we didn’t keep the ball in front of us.” Said Coach DePaul Dave Leitao.
DePaul shot 43.3 percent (13-30) from the field in the first half, and the Musketeers were able to hang with the Blue Demons by shrinking down the paint area and forcing DePaul to shoot over their extended zone pressure. Xavier shot 42.9 percent in the half (12-28) bringing the score to a one-point deficit at halftime 31-30.
St. John’s entered the 2017 Big East Tournament having won three of its last four games at the “The World ‘s Famous Arena.” The Johnnies most recently defeated its first round opponent No.9 seed Georgetown, 86-80 and its two prior wins at MSG came against NO.4 Marquette and N0.5 Seton Hall, which are opponents St. John’s would face if they advanced to the semifinals.
In the second half Xavier figure it all out with forward Trevon Bluiett and guard Quentin Goodin. The duo played a two way game of high-Lo to relieve space in the paint. When DePaul packed the box Bluiett kicked the ball to J.P. Macura for open threes. The Blue Devils couldn’t recover from the trio.
Xavier improves to 6-6 on the season when trailing at halftime. The Musketeers secured their fourth 20-win season and 11th in 12 years. Xavier is 8-1 vs. DePaul since the two became Big East foes in 2013-14.r the 12th time in the last 14 games and 27th time this season. Trevon Bluiett has double-digit points in five straight games since returning to the lineup after his injury. Bluiett points all came in the second half.
“ Well, we’re just happy to be moving on. I thought, I told our team I though our first 20 minutes of the game we didn’t play great. I think we were pressing. I don’t blame them. They’re kids. They want to play in the dance. They want to continue their season. So there’s a lot of pressure. It’s hard to beat a team back to back like that.”
Said Xavier Coach Quentin Goodin.
Xavier will play Butler in the quarterfinals a 7:30 start time at Madison Square Garden FS1 network will televise the game.