"We had 70 percent of our league making the NCAA Tournament a year ago", said Xavier coach Chris Mack.
When I saw the full video of what actually happened I realized it wasn't really that exciting.
St. John's came out riding the momentum of yesterday's win and took an early lead over the Musketeers.
While Justin Simon once again was efficient for St. John's with his 14 points (6-for-11 shooting) and Marvin Clark II picked up where he left off in the second half on Wednesday (16 points), they did not get the production they needed from Shamorie Ponds. After beating eighth-seeded Georgetown the night before, the Red Storm struggled to keep pace.
Junior Kaiser Gates finished 6-7 from the field and 4-5 from downtown to bolster Xavier's scoring with 16 points.
The Musketeers have advanced to the semifinals in the conference tournament five straight years since joining the Big East. XU will face the victor of Creighton and Providence in the semifinals on Friday at 6:30 p.m. My biggest thing is one goal, and that's trying to win a Big East championship. "I think our guards did a good job executing, taking them out of their game plan, knowing what we're supposed to do on ball screens and kind of taking them out of the game a little bit, kind of worked for us".
"Kids kept on talking to our guys", Xavier coach Chris Mack said in a postgame TV interview. The Musketeers had just seven turnovers in the win and made 9 of their 21 three-pointers. Three of them came from Trevon Bluiett, who had a game-high 27 points as Xavier continues on their quest for one of the number one seeds in next week's NCAA Tournament. "So often they talk about how many teams get in".
"We were locked in", Bluiett said. "A lot of times we had some close games that didn't go our way, but I thought we fought through that and to finish up the way we did I thought was impressive after having that tough stretch in January".
The second half belonged to Xavier, who outscored St. John's 55-31.
Mike Francesa watches the game between St. John's and Xavier in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, March 8, 2018.
Top-seeded Xavier (28-4) will play the victor of No. 4 Creighton-No.
Vincent Simone covers the MAAC, Hofstra, and more for NYC Buckets.