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Xavier’s Macura not afraid to take on Gonzaga’s bigs

Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams defends the rim against Xavier guard J.P. Macura in an NCAA Elite Eight game, Sat., March 25, 2017, in San Jose. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams defends the rim against Xavier guard J.P. Macura in an NCAA Elite Eight game, Sat., March 25, 2017, in San Jose. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Chris Mack was worried about Gonzaga’s size advantage inside.

On Friday, Xavier’s head coach said getting over 7-foot-1, 300-pound Przemek Karnowski wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Gonzaga’s biggest advantage was depth in the post – the Zags had three other bigs who could also keep pressure at the rim.

But Xavier guard J.P. Macura didn’t seem to mind the opposing height in the key – he drove inside anyways. And he was on point for a majority of his drives.

On a number of occasions, Macura slipped by Karnowski to toss in a quick layup before the Gonzaga big man could react. He also managed to get through 7-0 center Zach Collins in the first half for a tip-in and pull the Musketeers within six points.

Karnowski and Collins got into early foul trouble and had to sit, forcing Johnathan Williams and Killian Tillie to take over more than usual. But Macura got through them as well, powering into Tillie in the later part of the second half and reaching over the top of the forward for a close-range jumper.

“It was tough at certain times with their length obviously,” said 6-5 Macura, whose performance earned him a spot on the All West Region team. “It was difficult for a good amount of the guys on the team to finish around them.”

Macura led the Musketeers on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, including one 3-pointer. The guard had a couple of assists and pulled down five boards in 37 minutes on the court.



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