No. 6 Xavier found itself in a dog fight on Tuesday, trailing Wake Forest by as many as 18 points in the first half. The second half, however, was a different story, as the Musketeers outscored the Demon Deacons 50-27 to win 78-70.
“It was just our effort,” Xavier guard Edmond Sumner told John Jastremski, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Going into halftime, our coaches talked about our effort. We weren’t playing hard, so we just wanted to turn up our intensity.”
Sumner finished with a game-high 21 points to go with nine rebounds, two assists and two steals. He shot 6-of-13 from the field, 2-of-6 from three-point range and 7-of-10 from the line.
“My teammates are always encouraging me,” Sumner said. “Everybody knows how quick I am. They always want me to use (it), so my teammates continue to encourage me and just give me confidence in my game.”
Trevon Bluiett added 17 points and nine rebounds for Xavier, while James Farr had 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Xavier, which is off to the best start in school history, improved to 13-0 with the win.
Believe it or not, the Muskies’ eight-point win was their closest game all season. Just how special can this team be?
“I think we could be really special,” Sumner said. “We’re very deep and talented, we love playing for each other, we love each other off the court – we probably have the closest bond ever. I think we could do really well in March.”
Things will get decidedly tougher for Xavier in its next two games. The Muskies play at No. 17 Villanova (9-2) on Dec. 31 and host No. 9 Butler (10-1) on Jan. 2
“We’re very ready for the Big East,” Sumner said. “We’re trying to compete for a Big East title. That was one of our goals we set as a team. So we’re just going to get back to practice and get ready for the Big East. We know it’s going to be a hard challenge, but we’re up for it.”
Villanova, of course, won the Big East last year and should be in the mix to win it again.
“Yeah, Villanova’s been one of the best teams in the last three years,” Sumner said. “They beat us twice last year, so we got to go in there and steal a win from them.”