Monday, 20 August, 2018

Big East Tournament quarterfinals: St. John's vs. Xavier

Ethan Miller  Getty Images Ethan Miller Getty Images
Kristopher Love | 09 March, 2018, 16:46

Xavier easily handled St. John's in the quarterfinal of the Big East tournament on Thursday, 88-60, in a game that I watched out of the corner of my eye. Xavier rallied around Trevon Bluiett, who was the top scorer from either team with 22 points on 6-for-16 shooting. Kaiser Gates added 16 points in the win while Kerem Kanter tossed in 12 points.

The Musketeers have emerged victorious in both contests against the Red Storm this year, including a five-point victory the last time these teams met. The Musketeers (28-4, 15-3), a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, will face No. 5 seed Providence - 72-68 winners over fourth-seeded Creighton on Thursday afternoon - in the first semifinal Friday night. Tariq Owens, again bedeviled by foul woes, was a non-factor, managing two points in 16 underwhelming minutes. Bluiett was held to just nine points.

"Me and my family [are] going to sit down and go over everything", the 19-year-old Ponds said after being held to 15 points by Xavier, his lowest scoring output since January 27, on 4-of-14 shooting.

"We know something happened", Stu Jackson, the Big East's senior associate commissioner, told O'Neil. It's been this way for years. "When we got a couple to pop in the second half on the offensive end it kept up our defensive intensity".

"That's what you get for coming in ninth", he said. They went on an 11-2 run to balloon the lead to 11 with 13:33 left. Justin Simon waved his arms and exhorted the home crowd to get louder on a 3 that gave St. John's a two-point lead. As we sit just a few days away from Selection Sunday, teams all across the country are hoping to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament with a conference tournament win.

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When asked about whether he talked to Ponds about his status for next season, Mullin said he had yet to do so, but wouldn't be surprised if he tested the waters.

The Musketeers went on a 15-6 run to start the second half and used a 14-4 stretch midway through the half to go up by 20-plus.

In the 16-plus seasons that Wright has coached the Wildcats, the scales have always tipped toward players who want to be a part of the culture more than players for whom college is the necessary stopover before the National Basketball Association.

Said Wright: "I think it's because all of us have very similar programs, and that's why the league was formed".