No. 11 Xavier handles Clemson behind J.P. Macura’s big game

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J.P. Macura scored 23 of his 28 points in the first half and added five boards and five assists as No. 11 Xavier knocked off Clemson, 83-77, to advance to the finals of the Tire Pros Invitational.

Macura caught fire early in the first half, hitting his first five threes and leading the Musketeers as they opened up an early double-figures lead. Clemson made a run in the second half, eventually cutting the lead to three points midway through the final 20 minutes, but Xavier made enough plays down the stretch to hold on.

This was a good test for the Musketeers. They were taken to overtime by Missouri in their opener, and the Tigers are not expected to amount to much of anything in the SEC this season. Clemson, on the other hand, is a team many project as a potential NCAA tournament participant despite the fact that they look like they’ll finish in the bottom half of the ACC; that should tell you more about the strength of the league than anything else.

Xavier was in control throughout. There were a couple of shaky moments in the second half when Clemson’s zone got to Xavier, and it is games like this that make evident what Xavier is missing with Myles Davis out. As talented as Edmond Sumner is – he had 11 points, six boards, six assists, a pair of steals and a number of highlight reel plays during Friday’s game – but he’s still learning how to be a point guard at this level. There’s not better way to learn than by getting thrown into the fire, but there are moments where Xavier needs a powerful, steadying voice at that spot and Sumner is not quite that guy yet.

Trevon Bluiett added 21 points for Xavier.

Clemson star Jaron Blossomgame struggled in the first half but finished with 13 points.