Cincinnati, OH – It was senior day for the Musketeers as 6th ranked Villanova came to town looking to wrap up the Big East regular season title. As you would expect, Xavier came out with lots of passion and energy and jumped on Villanova early behind excellent guard play in the first half, as they hit on seven three point shots. They took a seven point lead into the locker room at halftime. However Villanova would settle down in the second half, take control of the game behind their great shooting from deep, and pulled away late in the second half to win the game 78-66.
This was a game that was mainly dominated by good guard play from both teams. Junior guard Dylan Ennis was big part of Villanova’s success, especially in the first half. He hit several big shots from NBA three-point range that kept the Wildcats close when Xavier was threatening to blow the game open. Ennis made 4-of-9 three pointers and finished the game with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists. Xavier’s senior point guard Dee Davis played a good all-around game as he played his final home game with lots of passion. Davis did a great job pushing the tempo for the Musketeers and getting his teammates great looks in transition situations. He contributed seven points, six rebounds, and nine assists in a losing effort.
This Big East matchup also featured a couple of big men that has the potential to be future NBA draft picks. Villanova’s Daniel Ochefu and Xavier’s Jalen Reynolds. Junior center Ochefu is a very sound big man with a throw back type of game. He is above average playing with his back to the basket. He has no problem backing down big men, and getting into a post move. He has a nice jump hook shot that he can shoot over either shoulder. He’s a good rebounder and plays good solid defense. The 6’11 center brings the ball down below his chest in the paint too much, which gets him into ball security issues at times. Once he starts keeping the ball up high he has the potential to be a dominant force on a consistent basis. This season Ochefu was named to the watch list of 15 elite student athletes for the Kareem Abdul Jabbar Award, which recognizes the nation’s best center. Ochefu is averaging nine points, eight rebounds and one block in just 23 minutes per game. He finished Saturday’s contest with ten points and eight rebounds.
Sophomore forward Reynolds is a very talented and athletic big. Reynolds is a high energy, high motor type of player. Whenever he is inserted into the lineup, Xavier looks like a completely different team. Reynolds runs the floor like a deer, and finishes very well on the break. Reynolds isn’t just an energy guy, he also has excellent ball skills. He has shown the ability to face up to the basket put the ball on the floor and make very good basketball plays. He has soft touch and good shooting form. He has good hands and excellent feet at 6’10 and 232 pounds, he moves around the court effortlessly, he is very agile and athletic and has the ability to guard multiple positions on defense. He is currently averaging over nine points, six rebounds and one block in just 19 minutes per game off of the bench. Reynolds’ minutes are continually getting increased this season, as he is clearly the best big man on Xavier’s roster, and has the potential to become a dominate force in the Big East in the near future. Reynolds put in a good effort in the loss against the Wildcats as he finished the game with 15 points, six rebounds and two steals.
With the win Villanova improves their record to 27-2 (14-2), and stays alive to potentially secure a top seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Xavier falls to 18-12 (8-9) and will probably need to make a deep run in the Big East Tournament to have a shot at making “The Big Dance”.
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