Nate Johnson scored a game-high 16 points to lead a balanced Xavier attack Wednesday night as the host Musketeers improved to 5-0 with a 79-48 nonconference defeat of Tennessee Tech in Cincinnati.
Playing its fifth game in eight days, Xavier got to enjoy a one-sided game for the first time since a 101-49 rout of Oakland in its season opener. The Musketeers survived close shaves with Bradley, Toledo and Eastern Kentucky, winning those games by a combined seven points.
No intricate last-shot strategy was required in this one as Xavier started to pull away about halfway through the first half, leveraging its advantages in size and strength against the Ohio Valley Conference foe.
Zach Freemantle added 14 points and six rebounds for the Musketeers before fouling out, while Paul Scruggs chipped in 14 points. KyKy Tandy came off the bench to contribute 10 points.
Xavier finished the night at 51.8 percent from the field and committed just eight turnovers, a dramatic change from the 25 it made in Monday night’s 99-96 overtime decision against Eastern Kentucky.
The Golden Eagles (0-3) got 13 points from Kenny White Jr., but made just 31.7 percent of their shots from the field. Tennessee Tech played without head coach John Pelphrey, who is recovering from COVID-19. Assistant coach Marcus King ran the squad.
Keishawn Davidson’s 3-pointer gave the Golden Eagles an 11-10 edge about 5 1/2 minutes into the game. But the Musketeers held them scoreless for the next four-plus minutes and took the lead for good during that span.
Tennessee Tech was still within 25-18 with about five minutes remaining before Xavier clamped down. Johnson’s 3-pointer at the 3:15 mark upped the margin to double digits for the first time, and the Musketeers headed for the locker room ahead 35-21.
A 10-2 burst to start the second half gave Xavier a 45-23 advantage, and the game’s competitive phase expired at that point. The Golden Eagles did whittle the deficit to 14, but the Musketeers ended the game with a 19-2 run.
--Field Level Media