Xavier started the week with a top-10 win on the road against Providence and then found itself scrambling early, down seven to DePaul. The Big East schedule begins to wear on teams here in late January and early February, in the kind of way that has Chris Mack stealing lines from noted sports psychologist Bill Belichick.
|Largest Xavier runs (2015-16)|
|Wright State (Dec. 8)||25-0|
|DePaul (Jan. 30)||23-1|
|Dayton (Nov. 29)||21-0|
|Marquette (Jan. 16)||21-0|
|USC (Nov. 27)||17-0|
|Wake Forest (Dec. 22)||21-4|
“Yeah I’m going to steal a line from Bill Belicheck, you know, “we’re on to the next one.” We can’t worry in this league,” Mack told CBS Sports’ Evan Washburn after the game. “You have to look forward, not in reverse.”
No. 7 Xavier’s 86-65 win moves the Musketeers to 19-2 overall and 7-2 in Big East play. Right now there’s not a team in the league with a better chance to knock Villanova from its perch but until they meet on the court again on Feb. 24 (Nova won by 31 on Dec. 31), they will remain a step back, at least in the league standings.
Mack credited the team’s defense, and a handful of DePaul fouls, for kick-starting what ended up being a 17-1 run in the final four minutes of the halftime and a 23-1 run on either side of the break. Xavier’s been a team that can get hot at any time, and on Saturday it was thanks mostly to their bench play (42 bench points compared to 12 for DePaul).
The 23-1 run was the second-largest run of the season so far for the Musketeers, a 19-2 team that looks like it can stand against anyone in the country with its depth, balance and firepower.