|Xavier hosts Tennessee Tech, looks for 5-0 start|
The last three wins in Xavier's season-opening 4-0 start haven't exactly been what one might term emphatic.
After blowing out winless Oakland 101-49 in their season opener, the Musketeers' total margin of victory in nail-biters against Bradley, Toledo and Eastern Kentucky was seven points.
Monday night's 99-96 overtime thriller over Eastern Kentucky, during which over 45 minutes looked like Xavier was a team capable of giving a TV-league power 40 minutes of indigestion in March, needed a rally halfway through the extra session to escape the loss column.
Xavier aims for an easier time on Wednesday night when it closes a five-game homestand against Tennessee Tech in Cincinnati.
"This is obviously a very quick turnaround," said Musketeers coach Travis Steele. "But our guys are excited to get back out here and give a much better effort than they gave against EKU."
Aside from committing 25 turnovers against the Colonels, who pressed the entire game and have forced at least 21 turnovers in every game, there was actually a lot to like about Xavier's performance.
The Musketeers shot 58.3 percent from the field, canned 23 of 30 at the foul line and controlled the boards 47-37. Four players scored at least 18 points, led by 24 from Zach Freemantle, who sank 11 of 12 field goal tries.
There was also a career milestone in the win, as senior Paul Scruggs' free throw in the second half made him the 57th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points. Scruggs fouled out in overtime, forcing the Musketeers to survive with a freshman and two sophomores in the backcourt.
Youth is also a theme for Tennessee Tech (0-2), which is rebuilding under former Arkansas coach John Pelphrey. The Golden Eagles are coming off a 62-54 loss Monday night at home against Chattanooga, which hit 19 of 22 at the foul line as compared to Tech's 7 of 15.
Pelphrey and three players missed the game for COVID-related reasons, leaving assistant coach Marcus King to run the squad.
"We don't quite understand what it takes to win a college basketball game yet," King said after the defeat to Chattanooga. "It's just some little things we need to clean up, and that's on us as coaches. We'll talk about those things and get to work on them."
The Golden Eagles will stay around Cincinnati after Wednesday night's game. They're playing on Thursday at Northern Kentucky.
--Field Level Media