Wed, 08 Dec 2021

Coming off big win, Xavier not taking Norfolk State lightly

Field Level Media
21 Nov 2021, 04:55 GMT+10

Less than 24 hours after Xavier's 71-65 upset of No. 19 Ohio State, Musketeers coach Travis Steele already was talking up his team's next opponent, Norfolk State.

He wasn't doing it merely for the media's benefit. He wanted to make sure his players, despite the fact that the Musketeers have a veteran roster, don't look past the visiting Spartans on Sunday in Cincinnati.

Xavier (3-0) has a holiday trip to the Preseason NIT Tip-Off in Brooklyn on Wednesday up next. The Musketeers will face Iowa State in the first round.

"I told the guys we have to move on very, very quickly (from the Ohio State game)," Steele said. "Enjoy the moment, but we can't afford any type of a letdown moving forward versus Norfolk State.

"When we scheduled this game," he added, "I knew coming off of a big game like Ohio State ... people can look past a Norfolk State, but the reason we scheduled them was because they were in the NCAA Tournament last year."

He credited ninth-year Norfolk State head coach Robert Jones, saying, "He does a great job. They're going to mix it up defensively. They're going to throw the kitchen sink at you and try to get you out of rhythm. That's going to be a big part of our preparation."

Norfolk State (5-0) beat Bowling Green, 90-84 on the road on Friday night with five players scoring in double figures, one of whom was Joe Bryant Jr., who is averaging 17.4 points and 3.4 assists.

"I'm so proud of these young men," Jones said afterward. "To go get a tough road win against a MAC opponent is incredible. The 5-0 start is history-making for the program, but we still have a long way to go."

Two of those wins were against non-Division I competition.

For Xavier, Iowa transfer Jack Nunge has stepped up in the absence of injured Zack Freemantle. He is averaging 10.7 points and 8.0 rebounds, including 14 and 14 against the Buckeyes, who were held to 37.7 percent shooting.

--Field Level Media

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