Flying high off Saturday’s local rivalry victory, Xavier will go for its fourth win in a row when it hosts Southern on Tuesday in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Musketeers (7-3) beat Cincinnati 80-77 with the help of three late free throws from Souley Boum, the team’s leading scorer at 17.0 points per game. Boum finished with a game-high 21 points, Jack Nunge added 18, Colby Jones scored 15 and Zach Freemantle had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Xavier won the Crosstown Shootout for the fourth straight time. The Musketeers led 41-24 at halftime but had to fend off the host Bearcats’ furious rally.
“Road games are not easy no matter who you’re playing,” Boum told reporters. “We came out really strong, really hot, but we knew they were going to make a run. It felt good to finish the game. We just had to stay poised, stay together and finish the game.”
Xavier has yet to be ranked in the AP Top 25 poll this season, but it received 26 votes in Monday’s latest rankings. Since losing by single digits to Duke and Gonzaga at the Phil Knight Legacy, the Musketeers have also defeated Southeastern Louisiana and West Virginia.
Tuesday is Xavier’s last tune-up before its Big East schedule begins Friday at Georgetown.
Southern (4-5) earned its last two wins over non-Division I opponents, but it has also defeated Cal on the road and Loyola Maryland on a neutral floor.
Southern coach Sean Woods told the Baton Rouge Advocate last month that the Jaguars “couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean” by the end of last season, which concluded with a first-round loss to Grambling in the SWAC tournament.
“It’s never happened to me before, but I guess it happened for a reason because these guys are hungry,” Woods said. “We know we left something on the table last year.”
The Jaguars are shooting 44.8 percent as a team, with five players averaging at least eight points per game and nine players averaging at least five. Brion Whitley (12.4 points per game) paces the team, followed by Bryson Etienne (12.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.9 steals).
Southern’s trip to Ohio also includes a visit to Youngstown State on Friday. The Jaguars won’t play another home game until Florida A&M on Jan. 7.
–Field Level Media