Why Are They Here
Written by Adam Bird on 03/16/2018
Today we watch as the south regions number one seed the Xavier Musketeers take on the Texas Southern Tigers. Xavier has been on a tear in the Big East with an impressive 28-5 overall and 15-3 conference record. The Tigers enter today’s game with a losing record and I’m not sure why they are here, maybe they can change my mind.
Xavier touting an early season win over cross town rival and West region number two seed Cincinnati (89-76). The Bearcats punched their ticket to the next round earlier. It’s hard not to look to the future and the possibility of such a rivalry meeting in the final four.
Xavier draws first blood with a three and then turns the ball over to Texas southern who quickly scores a two. It’s easy for a team like Xavier to overlook a team like Texas Southern. The Tigers are hoping that’s the case as they take the lead four to three. However that’s erased with a stop and then a score by Xavier’s Kerem Kanter. Followed by a three from Bluiett to give the Musketeers the lead at 11 to 4. My nose may be itchy with these allergies here in Nashville but I’m smelling a blowout. Xavier’s Kerem Kanter jumped a mile above the rim for a goal tending call and we sit at 13 to 4 Xavier with just under sixteen to play in the half.
Jefferson from Texas Southern tries to keep the Tigers close with a three, then a turn over to get them the ball and back in the game. Robert Lewis for the Tigers knocks down a big three to put Texas southern a point away from tying. Reed is fouled, he hit both to give the Tigers the lead. I guess that was just the allergies because Texas Southern has come to play, with just under twelve in the first the Tigers of Texas Southern hold the lead at 20-15.
Xavier brings the ball down, pushing it inside to J.P Macura for the score. Macura hits a three after a huge defensive stop and the Musketeers tie the game, holy cow there’s Bill Murray. Another score by Macura then a defensive steal that leads to a score gives Xavier the lead 24-20 with just under ten to play in the first. J.P is shooting the lights out tonight as Xavier strengthens their lead to nine with eight to play. Texas Southern has the ball, now they don’t. Xavier shoots, misses but gets the second chance shot and none other than J. P Macura scores bringing us to 34-24 with six minutes to play. The Tigers behind Derrick Bruce refuse to give up, but like a Bill Cosby date, refusal doesn’t always mean something. The Musketeers are starting to pull away now up by ten with five to play in the first half.
As the great Bubba Sparxx once said “its getting ugly”, Paul Scruggs knocks down a triple to put Xavier up 46-28 with three to play. Fouls, Fouls and more fouls as we still sit 46-29 with under two to play. Trevon Bluiett hit a wide open three to go up by twenty. Texas Southern Jefferson drives, scores and is fouled for the chance to bring the Tigers within 15, he does. Jefferson, steals the ball drives hard and fast for the lane where he scores and is fouled. Damontrae Jefferson is 5’7 but has played like a giant these last few seconds and at the half we sit Xavier 49, Texas Southern 37.
As we await the second half, one wonders what you tell a 16-19 team who is facing the number one seed. I guess we will find out if anything he said motivates the Tigers here shortly. Its Xavier’s ball to start the second half and as they bring it up Kanter scores with ease to give Xavier a 51-39 lead. Dante Clark responds, brings the Tigers up to 41.
Derrick Bruce adds a trey to the Texas Southern scoreboard and now they are almost losing by ten. J.P Macura continues his beautiful shooting from outside the arch to extend the Muskateer massacre. As the Tigers hurl their bodies on the court to try to snag loose balls we now sit at Xavier 63 and the Tigers of Southern Texas 44. We are starting to see why participation trophies shouldn’t be a thing and neither should 16-19 teams playing in the NCAA tournament. Gates hits two free throws for Xavier to push the lead to twenty with fifteen to play in the game. After a foul, Texas southern hits both free throws to bring us to 52-69 Xavier with under twelve to play. Texas Southern coach Mike Davis has a weird exchange with the table and a gentleman wearing what looks to be as black spray paint for a toupee. We now exchange fouls and foul shots in what has become the slowest game of my life. Xavier sits at 71 while the Texas Southern Tigers have 54 with eleven to play. Paul Scruggs from Xavier lines up to shoot more free throws, the Tigers new defensive strategy seems to be death by single foul shots. Texas Southern struggling to hit anything as any 16-19 team would, now sitting down by 21 with ten to play. Jefferson from Texas Southern has the heart of a lion and is playing to all his 5’7 frame can muster. Jefferson is fouled and hits both to bring the Tigers back within sixteen. Kanter for Xavier scores and the Musketeers take a time out to talk about the guy with the spray paint hair, in what has become a weird, sluggish game.
A little under eight minutes to play with Xavier in the driver’s seat and on cruise control, let’s see if Bruce and the Tigers can muster a run. Texas Southern ball, but the referees would rather look at the replay a few more thousand times in what is obviously the most important game in the NCAA. Here we go finally as Texas southern brings the ball down, shoots a three and misses. Rebounded by Xavier and pushed ahead to Kanter for the score brings it to another 20-point lead for the Musketeers. As we take another time out, the battle of the bands starts up. This seems a far better match up for Texas Southern, whose band came to party. Play restarts and Texas Southern quickly scores, however Kerem Kanter hits a three for the Musketeers to push the lead to twenty-two. Donte Clark for Texas Southern drives the lane, hits and is fouled. Clark missed the free throw and it’s not like it would have mattered. Kanter is literally shooting at will and hitting, we now sit at an embarrassing 91-68 Xavier lead with five to go in the game. Why not, let’s have another time out, because this game isn’t long and unnecessary enough. As we sit at 92-74 Xavier and three minutes to play Kanter adds to the Xavier lead slashing to the lane. J.P Macura grabs a steal and drives the lane for a score and foul. The Tigers of Texas Southern are giving it all they have as they jump their score up to 81. Trevon Bluiett leaves the game after giving solid playing time for the Musketeers. Kanter scores again with a minute left to play bringing us near to the end of this slaughter. First, we shoot free throws, the Tigers get aggressive against Xavier’s fifth string and draw the foul with thirteen seconds left in the game. Xavier wins 102-83.