After a 71-64 win over St. Louis in the Atlantic 10 semifinals, Xavier’s got that look about them right now.
Coming off of a come-from-behind win over Dayton on Friday, Xavier jumped out to a lead that reached as much as 13 points early in the second half against St. Louis on Saturday evening. The Billikens made a run, however, trimming the lead to one possession on three different occasions and getting as close as one with 7:33 left in the game.
But as was the case against Dayton, the Musketeers closed the game strong, using a 10-3 spurt to create some distance and knocking down their free throws late in the game to put it away.
Now, against Dayton, Tu Holloway was the guy that sparked Xavier’s second half run, but it was Mark Lyons who scored the final seven points of the game. Against St. Louis, Holloway once again sparked the second half run, but there was a new hero for Chris Mack’s team on Saturday: freshman Dez Wells.
He had eight straight points during that 10-3 run and scored 14 of his 18 points in the final nine minutes of the game. Two different heroes on back-to-back nights and neither of them were the nation’s leader in clutchacity. (Still trying to make that a thing.)
So, like I said, Xavier’s starting to get that look about them.
All told, Holloway, Lyons and Wells combined for 53 points, 15 boards and six assists on 17-31 shooting from the floor. When those three are playing well, Xavier is going to be able to compete with anyone. Case in point? They beat a very good St. Louis team on Saturday — one that embarrassed Xavier just 10 days ago — with out getting much of anything from their front line. Kenny Frease, Andre Walker, Travis Taylor and Jeff Robinson combined for 18 points, 13 rebounds and 11 turnovers in 80 minutes. Frease alone had been averaged 15.2 ppg and 9.4 rpg the last five games.
With the amount of raw ability that Xavier has, there are a lot of five and six seeds hoping that the Musketeers don’t figure it out before the NCAA Tournament starts.
But they might already have.