Xavier faces Kent State looking to find its stride

NCAA Men's Basketball

Xavier will look to build some momentum on Friday night when the Musketeers welcome Kent State to Cincinnati in what is the season opener for the Flashes.

It was not smooth sailing as previously expected with the Musketeers in their season opener against Niagara. The Purple Eagles kept the game close throughout, but Xavier (1-0) pulled out a 63-60 win on their home court.

“We’ve got a long road ahead,” Xavier head coach Travis Steele said. “It’s a marathon. We gotta continue to get better, but we gotta learn from this win.”

Xavier was led by the duo of Paul Scruggs and Colby Jones. Last season, Jones was the sixth Musketeers player since 2015 to be named to the Big East All-Freshman team.

Scruggs led Xavier with 17 points and six assists, shooting 50 percent from the field and the three-point line. Jones wasn’t too far behind, finishing with 16 points, three steals and five rebounds.

Dieonte Miles and Jerome Hunter clogged the middle, recording seven and nine rebounds, respectively. Miles ended up with five offensive rebounds and added on two blocks with nine points. Hunter scored seven points.

Kent State enters the 2021-22 season with high expectations after finishing last season with a 15-8 record. The Flashes were fourth in the MAC with a 12-6 record and have been picked fourth in the preseason MAC poll.

They enter this season having lost seniors Danny Pippen (19.3 points per game) and Michael Nuga (17.8), but head coach Rob Senderoff worked the transfer market to plug in holes.

Guards Sincere Carry (Duquesne) and Andrew Garcia (Georgia), along with forwards DJ Johnson (Rhode Island) and Akeem Odusipe (Vanderbilt) have all been added. Carry received preseason All-MAC second-team honors.

Redshirt senior Tervell Beck (11.7 points) and redshirt junior Malique Jacobs (10.0) are expected to take on bigger roles this season.

“We have a team with experience, some young guys that I’m excited about, some transfers that I think will help us,” Senderoff told the Great Lakes Post. “And (we have) a core group back that has been through some battles on the court together. We were 12-6 in the league … so we’re looking forward to continuing the process of our team evolving.”

Xavier has won its last four meetings against Kent State, the most recent being a 96-70 win during the 2017-18 season.

–Field Level Media

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