Chicago, IL- Xavier and DePaul opened up Big East play on Saturday as the Musketeers went on a 19-4 run over the final five minutes to propel them to a 74-65 victory over the Blue Demons at Wintrust Arena.
DePaul struggled in the first half shooting only 38.5 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3. The smothering Xavier defense made life difficult for Max Strus who came in averaging almost 20 ppg. Strus was held to 10 points and only one rebound as he could not shake himself free from man or zone coverage. He forced numerous contested 3-point looks and was only able to make 2-of-7 attempts. DePaul’s offense struggled as they could only muster 10 assists during the game. They did shoot 87 percent from the free throw line on 23 attempts which kept them in the game until Xavier ultimately broke away in the final three minutes.
6-9 sophomore forward Paul Reed led the way for the Blue Demons displaying his length and athleticism. He grabbed nine boards while scoring a team leading 17 points, shooting an impressive 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Senior guard Eli Cain (14 points), the team’s second leading scorer, converted an athletic shot in the lane while being fouled to put the DePaul up by five with four minutes left. Jaylen Butz was a spark off the bench with 16 points and six rebounds in 33 minutes. With the loss DePaul falls to 8-4 on the season and will look to get back in the win column as they travel to Philadelphia to take on defending national champion Villanova.
The Xavier defense did a good job holding the Blue Demons to 21.4 percent from deep and 40.4 percent overall. They mixed zone and man defenses to throw off DePaul. Travis Steele made a concerted effort to focus on Strus. Tyrique Jones was paramount to their defensive success with two help side blocks and three steals. Sharpshooter Ryan Welange continued his hot streak, making 5-of-8 3-pointers for 17 points. Naji Marshall showed why he was on the preseason all Big East team grabbing a team high 14 rebounds to go along with his game high 19 points and an impressive 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Marshall drew a lot of defensive attention during his dominating performance and took advantage of a double team with a creative drop off to Jones in the second half.
Both teams shot under 50 percent from the field, but combined to go an impressive 38-of-45 from the charity stripe. They both were careful with the ball as DePaul only had 10 turnovers while Xavier had 11. Xavier will face Big East foe Seton Hall next.
This article was written by Noah Molk, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter. We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout apprenticeship program. For information contact us and forward your resume.