Xavier Basketball’s heading to San Jose, CA for the Sweet 16. After perhaps their most impressive wins of the season over the weekend. Getting a 91-66 win over Florida State Basketball in Orlando, FL on Saturday.
Now the Xavier Musketeers will get ready to face Arizona Basketball on Thursday night. For the right to head to the Elite Eight, a prospect few probably felt was in the cards for this Xavier team. After a regular season filled with obstacles;Xavier’s shown during this NCAA Tournament how they’ve overcome them. Saturday’s game was a showcase of Chris Mack’s coaching skills.
Mack out-coached Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton; whom deserves credit for the good job he’s done with that program. Coaching a talented basketball team, bringing them into prominence at what’s typically seen as a football school. Mack brought a defensive strategy that worked wonders for the Musketeers. With a 1-3-1 zone that slowed Florida State down throughout Saturday’s game. Florida State’s shooting was impacted as a result with a field goal percentage of 40%.
Xavier’s shooting on the other hand was stellar compared to previous games. Making 55.6% of their field goal attempts and 64.7% of their three point attempts. Kaiser Gates made four of his five three point field goals; for 12 of his 14 points. The only Xavier player with more points than Gates on Saturday was Trevon Bluiett. Leading with six rebounds and 29 points, Bluiett had another impressive performance.
Everyone for the most part stepped their games up on Saturday for the Musketeers. Especially players that are typically coming off the bench. Sean O’Mara followed up a stellar performance on Thursday with a great Saturday at the charity stripe. With O’Mara making seven of seven free throws on Saturday. O’Mara didn’t miss any of his shots on Saturday, also making two of two field goal attempts.
Xavier’s two starting freshmen also played well on Saturday night. Tyrique Jones and Quentin Goodin combined for 19 points for the Musketeers. Jones had the bulk with 13, missing just one field goal attempt. While Goodin didn’t have a great night scoring, he contributed with five assists. Tied with J.P. Macura for the most assists in Saturday’s game.
This Xavier team showcase how a regular season doesn’t always define a team. Last season the Musketeers had one of their best regular seasons in program history. Their time in last year’s NCAA Tournament ended in the second round. This year, the Musketeers stumbled during the homestretch of the regular season. However, they’re advancing further this year compared to last.
Xavier’s game against Arizona tips off Thursday on TBS at 10:09 PM Eastern. The winner will face either Gonzaga or West Virginia Basketball in the West regional final.