No. 11 Xavier survived their opener in the Tire Pros Invitational on Thursday afternoon, as Edmond Sumner hit 1-of-2 free throws with 0.3 seconds left in overtime to escape with an 83-82.
It was not a good performance for the Musketeers, who have the talent on their roster to give Villanova a run for their money in the Big East. Xavier shot 2-for-22 from beyond the arc and just 25-for-38 from the free throw line.
But credit must be given to Missouri for this, as the Tiger youngsters were terrific. Freshman Frankie Hughes had 24 points, five boards, three assists and three steals while hitting a number of big threes in the second half. Sophomore Kevin Puryear added 22 points and 10 boards, but it was the play of another freshman, Terrence Phillips, that really stood out. For starters, he had 21 points, seven boards and five assists that helped Missouri control this game for much of the second half. But he also committed the foul with less than a second remaining that sent Sumner to the line for the eventual game-winning free throws.
Missouri was basically picked by everyone to finish at or near the bottom of an SEC that’s not very good. And while this was just one random mid-week afternoon game, it certainly looked like the Tigers will at least be competitive in the conference this season.
As far as Xavier is concerned, I’m going to chalk this one up to the Musketeers simply overlooking the opponent and coming out flat in an empty arena. They had some big three-pointers rattle out, they looked a step slow defensively and they missed far too many free throws, but I don’t think that this team is bad.
We will find out tomorrow. Xavier will square off with Clemson, who pasted a good Davidson team earlier on Thursday. If the Musketeers have another ugly showing, it will be time for us to start questioning them.