Sun, 02 Oct 2022

Xavier meets Central Michigan, aims to return to Top 25

Field Level Media
01 Dec 2021, 08:05 GMT+10

After falling out of the Top 25, Xavier hopes to catch the eyes of the voters on Wednesday evening when it hosts Central Michigan in nonconference action in Cincinnati.

The Musketeers (5-1) defeated Virginia Tech 59-58 on Friday in their most recent game after losing by 12 to Iowa State two days earlier.

Xavier, formerly No. 25 in the AP poll, likely will need Nate Johnson to continue his strong play in order to move back into the rankings. He scored 30 points on 7-of-11 3-point shooting vs. Virginia Tech, including the decisive trey late in the contest.

"Oh my God, it's incredible. He's an incredible shooter," teammate Jack Nunge said of Johnson. "When he's hot, we've got to find him, keep giving him looks, and we have all the confidence in the world that he's going to make every shot he takes."

Johnson's big night against the Hokies vaulted him to the top of the Musketeers' scoring list for the season. He is averaging 13.0 points a game, although Colby Jones (12.6), Nunge (12.0) and Paul Scruggs (11.8) aren't far behind.

Jones, a 6-foot-6 guard, is averaging 10 rebounds per game and enters Wednesday's contest having pulled down double-digit rebounds in each of the past three games.

Meanwhile, Central Michigan (1-5) has challenged itself with a difficult early-season schedule that already has included road or neutral-site games against Missouri, DePaul, then-No. 1 Gonzaga on Nov. 22, and, most recently, No. 9 Kentucky on Monday.

The Chippewas lost Monday's matchup with the Wildcats 85-57 as Central Michigan shot just 41.1 percent from the field, committed 15 turnovers and got outrebounded 47-30.

Jermaine Jackson Jr. registered 11 points and five assists in a losing effort, while teammate Cameron Healy shot 3-of-4 on 3-pointers en route to nine points.

"We're progressively getting better," said Central Michigan first-year coach Tony Barbee. "It's just hard to see against these types of teams that we're playing, and it doesn't get any easier on Wednesday. Our record is not indicative of how good of a team we're becoming. We're playing some hard teams. We're playing some of the best teams in the country, and we're getting better."

--Field Level Media

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