By: Craig James
If you would have told me Trevon Bluiett doesn’t score his first bucket until 24 minutes into the game and Xavier still wins, I would say not a chance, but that was the case Thursday night. This Xavier team showed how deep they are. Bluiett started slowly, much like he did in last March’s tournament run. Ultimately he finished with 25 points and put the game out of reach with his back to back threes late in the second half.
J.P. Macura picked up the slack while Bluiett was struggling. Macura and the Wisconsin fans were going at each other all night, it was something to see, and we’ll dive into that a little later in this blog. Macura finished with 20 points. Something that has gone with little mention across the country, as reaction from this game rolls in, is that Bluiett and Macura led the team in rebounding. The two senior leaders doing it at both ends of the floor is a great example for the star freshmen Xavier has. Macura put the final nail in the coffin with this dunk. Xavier got their revenge from the devastating 2016 Tournament loss Thursday night.
Three items I was excited to watch in this game were how the freshman would play in their first big game on the big stage, Tyrique Jones down low, and Bluiett vs All American Ethan Happ. Paul Scruggs played 17 minutes Thursday night and Naji Marshall logged 13 minutes. Both didn’t really make an impact on the game. Marshall had three turnovers in his limited action.
Tyrique Jones had his way down low. Played 17 minutes. He’s a max effort guy when he’s on the floor. Hence, he can’t stay out there for long periods of time. As his conditioning improves throughout the season, Jones production will grow. While he has been in the game so far this season he has been DOMINANT. Through three games he has pretty much been splitting even time with Sean O’Mara.
Final item was Bluiett vs Happ. Bluiett finished with 25 and 9 rebounds. Mr. Everything for Wisconsin, Happ, finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Advantage Bluiett.
Now let’s get to the postgame reaction from around the country. When teams are not used to losing, especially losing at home, the first reaction is that the opposing team and fans are classless. What Macura and the Wisconsin student section had going last night was what makes college athletics awesome. Talking trash and trolling each other all night. As a country, let’s not be so soft. There’s a real simple way to make sure visiting teams players don’t have a chance to talk smack to fans, taunt them after games, plant flags in the middle of the field (i.e. Baker Mayfield) … you beat them. You don’t let them come to your campus and beat you. Simply put you don’t get your shit kicked in at home.
No one wins against the Badgers at home, as they have the 6th best winning percentage of any team at home, and they definitely don’t lose by 10 at home. So I see why the Badger faithful were triggered last night. Let’s face it, the Badgers are in for a rough year once Ohio State beats them 59-0 again and knocks them out of the College Football Playoff…
Let’s dive into the whole Macura vs Wisconsin fans. I was flagged once in a 8th grade CYO football for taunting so I know a thing or two about some good ole fashioned taunting. What J.P. Macura did last night was some First Team All American taunting.
Twitter is an an uproar this morning as pro golfer @stevestrickpga and others are calling XU classless for JP's shenanigans. He crammed home that oop and gator chomped in Wisconsin's face at the end of the game (Wisco lost on a buzzer beater to Florida in the tourney last year). Is the angry Twitter crowd correct in calling XU classless, or was it all fair game in the spirit of heated competition? Is it fair to assume Macura was gator chomping simply to show off his newfound bi's and tri's? So many important questions to be answered. Reaction blog in bio. #Xavier #Wisconsin
Why was Macura doing the gator chomp after he threw down an alley oop slam? Was it because the alligator is his favorite reptile? Was it because he wanted to show off his new and improved biceps and triceps? Nope, none of those. It was because Wisconsin lost to Florida on a buzzer beater in last year’s tournament…now that folks is A+ taunting (Some are saying he was mocking a weird “sarcastic clap” that Wisco fans do, but either way it was great). The fact Macura had that ready just shows the level of preparation he puts into his taunting. LOVE IT.
Steve Stricker, professional snowflake, I mean golfer, was the most triggered by Xavier and J.P. Macura’s actions towards the student section.
Hey Steve I bet you weren’t bitching when the American fans yelled during European players shots in the Ryder Cup?!?! Calling another team and fan base classless is just a lazy reaction and one that oftentimes to many fans resort to when they lose games.
Stricker must not have seen/heard the Wisconsin student section getting on Macura all game. There’s nothing wrong with that, when the hate between a student section and an opposing player is going on it makes the game that much more entertaining. The way Macura plays makes him an easy target. He’s like Grayson Allen, except he doesn’t trip people.
Xavier passed their first test of the season. A total team win. They picked up their star player when he was struggling and Bluiett stepped up when his team needed him most. A great all around win for the Musketeers.
Next up for the Musketeers is a trip to Vegas for the Continental Tire Invitational.
P.S. Mario Mercurio, Director of Basketball Administration, has the tweet of the year so far in this young college basketball season. Shout out Mario! Not only does he deliver the pizza (reference for all my guys who went to Xavier basketball camp back in the day) he delivers knockout tweets.
P.P.S. The fact the line for this game was Xavier +3.5 was flat out ridiculous. Thanks for the free money.
P.P.P.S. Hey Wisconsin fans at least you can use all the salt from this game on your roads when it snows 12897342 feet this winter. 💀