It may have been against a Georgetown team that was winless in the Big East Conference, but riding a five-game losing streak, Xavier's men's basketball needed a win and a positive performance to go with it, The Musketeers got both on Saturday night at Cintas Center, 97-75.
After Wednesday's loss at St. John's, Xavier head coach Travis Steele decided to give his team the day off on Thursday "to kind of find ourselves."
Steele said: "My number one fear going into this game was that they were going to sleep on Georgetown. Georgetown's been playing well. They had Seton Hall (nearly beat) at Seton Hall on Wednesday night. So, I was just afraid, like hey do we take this day? Do our guys think we're preparing in a different way. I was worried about that.
"But I also knew, at the same time, if we didn't have our locker room right and our mentality right it doesn't matter who the heck we're playing."
Xavier had a short meeting on Thursday and Steele thought the break helped his team mentally.
It seemed like it on Saturday. The Musketeers used an early 17-2 run to take control and in the first half, Xavier got it done at both ends of the floor.
The offense was a study in execution as Xavier piled up 21 assists on its first 21 field goals, finishing with 32 assists on 35 field goals.
"I thought our ball moved on that offensive end. The ball found the open guy. I thought our guys made the right plays. Our spacing was much, much better tonight, and obviously, it looks a lot different when you make a few shots," said Steele.
Xavier also made a lot of shots. The Musketeers went 14-for-25 from beyond the arc – their most 3-pointers in a conference game all season – and finished 35-of-64 from the field.
The defense was stingy and connected, holding the Hoyas to 30 points in the first half on 9-of-31 shooting as Xavier raced to the halftime locker room with a 54-30 lead.
Xavier's defense wasn't as good in the second half. Georgetown went with a smaller lineup and had a lot more success after the break, but Xavier's offense continued clicking and carried the Musketeers to their first win since Feb. 11.
On Senior Night, it was senior Nate Johnson who stole the show. Johnson dropped a game-high 25 points and went 7-for-11 from beyond the arc to lead four Musketeers in double figures.
Jack Nunge had 16 points and nine rebounds. Colby Jones had 16 points, six rebounds, seven assists and no turnovers. Adam Kunkel had 12 points, eight assists and one turnover.
It was the first time in a long time that Xavier had a bunch of key players on the same page, all impacting winning.
Xavier wraps up the regular season 18-12 overall and 8-11 in the Big East.
Now, the greatest question facing Xavier is can the Musketeers carry over Saturday's performance into next week's Big East Conference Tournament.
"We've got the Big East Tournament here at Madison Square Garden starting on Wednesday night and I just found out in the locker room, I had no idea who the heck we were playing, we got Butler as fate would have it," said Steele. "I vividly remember last year being at MSG that feeling that I had in my stomach after that game and I know our guys do as well. I told our guys, listen we're 2-0 against Butler this year. Those 80 minutes mean nothing. They don't mean anything. And I hate people will say it's hard to beat a team three times in a row. That's a bunch of bologna as well. It's about those 40 minutes on the floor. Who's the tougher, more together team for 40 minutes and we gotta prepare the right way starting tonight."