It was not a good night three hours up I-65 in Cincinnati, where the undefeated and #12 ranked Xavier Musketeers took it to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in every conceivable way, as Xavier rolled to their eighth win of the year, and improved their home record to 4-0, with a 95-64 win.
Justin Johnson scored the first bucket of the game for the Tops, giving WKU a 2-0 lead, and then...well, that was really it.
Okay, okay, it really wasn't thaaaaat bad. I may or may not be exaggerating just a tad. In fact, the first half was (all things considered) pretty alright for the Tops. Despite not having a double-digit scorer at the half, WKU was able to keep things relatively in check, keeping within 14 at the half at 44-30, and even came out guns blazing in the second frame, scoring the first four points (yeah, it ain't much, but it's...something!) and making it look like a game.
But, alas, Xavier was just clearly the better team tonight. The Musketeers shot 57(!!!) percent from the floor, hit from a 43.8% clip from beyond the arc, and hit 72.7% of their free throws, while also dishing out 21 assists and winning the rebounding battle 40-32.
Four of Xavier's five starters were in double figures - lead by Trevon Bluiett's 21 - while the Tops put three double figure scorers up of their own, but the most from a Topper was 15 from Johnson, who came three rebounds shy of another double double.
If the Musketeers hadn't shot as well as they did from the floor, WKU fans wouldn't have such a poor taste in their mouth. I'm not saying the Tops would have won, but it certainly wouldn't have been a 30 point loss. Towards the back end of the second half, when the game was entering "dangerously out of hand" territory, WKU just began to chuck up threes to try and quickly get back into the game, only to either hit and have Xavier hit on the other end, or to miss and have Xavier hit on the other end. Really a lose-lose situation for the Tops.
Hopefully that won't be the last WKU sees of Xavier in a while though. With only three hours separating the schools, they really should try to work out something of a yearly series.
Two games remain before the all important Louisville game for the Tops, and Ray Harper's squad will next take the court next Sunday (Dec. 13) when Indiana State comes to the Hill.