Cincinnati, OH – Today’s game was a strong early season non-conference match-up between two teams with high expectations this season as the Utah Utes of the Pac-12 faced the Xavier Musketeers of the Big East. This was the first time that these two basketball programs have ever met.
Both teams came out playing tight defense, but Xavier quickly found some separation halfway through the first half led by junior guard J.P. Macura. The 6-5 guard came out of the gate shooting the ball very well hitting on four of his first five shots, including three coming from beyond the arc to give the Musketeers some breathing room. Macura is a long guard who can fill it up from all over the floor, his outside shooting is his best attribute; however he has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket if needed.
Senior forward Rashid Gaston also played a huge role for the Musketeers in the first half. He did an outstanding job controlling the paint. Gaston is a physical player he does a good job of battling to get position down low, he’s not the longest person, but at 6-9 and 240 he is a very scrappy player who does a good job of finishing strong around the basket. Gaston was one point shy of a first half double-double as his nine points and 10 rebounds in the first half helped Xavier to a 40-29 halftime lead.
For the Utes the game was in danger of getting away from them early on, but their talented freshman guard Devon Daniels played well and kept the game somewhat in reach. Daniels is a big, rangy guard that does a great job of probing his way to the basket. When he gets to the rim he does a really good job of finding a way to score. He was outstanding all night scoring around traffic, and playing through contact. Daniels led the Utes in the first half with nine points on 4-of-4 shooting. The freshman Daniels ended the night scoring a game high of 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
The Utes opened the second half on an 11-4 run led by likely future NBA draft pick Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma was held in check in the first half, however he came at in the second half in attack mode. He displayed his versatility on consecutive possessions. He hit a three point basket from the top of the key on one possession, then put the ball on the floor and drove right past his defender for the score on the next possession. The 6-9 forward does it all for the Utes, he goes down low on the block and plays with his back to the basket, he can also face up and shoot or put the ball on the floor. Kuzma leads the Utah in scoring, rebounds, and assists. He finished the game with a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Utah kept the game in reach most of the second half, but the Musketeers always had an answer whenever the Utes cut it close. Led by Macura’s 18 points, and Gaston’s 11 points and 14 rebounds, Xavier played a very scrappy game and made timely baskets to put the game away winning 77-69. For Xavier the win came right on time, as they snapped a two game losing streak to improve to 8-2 on the season, while Utah falls to 6-2 with the loss.
This article was written by Frank Preston, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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