Xavier starting wing Colby Jones missed their Tuesday evening matchup with Fairfield and his status is uncertain for a Friday night showdown with Indiana (6 p.m. Eastern, FS1).
The 6-foot-6 preseason first-team All-Big East selection was wearing a protective boot last night after suffering an ankle injury during a Monday practice.
Musketeers head coach Sean Miller discussed Jones’ status last night as his team takes a quick turn to face Indiana on Friday evening in Cincinnati.
“He (Jones) had an ankle injury in (Monday’s) practice. The good news is the x-rays were negative and he’s made progress from (Monday to Tuesday),” Miller told reporters after his team’s 78-65 win over Fairfield.
“I know Colby is hopeful he can play. So are all of us. We’re certainly not going to put him at risk. It’s going to be his decision but it will also be making sure that he’s able to play. But we’re hopeful that he can. I think we’ll know more, not even tomorrow, but I think we’ll know more as we get to the day before (Friday). I think the situation is he would have to be able to show us he can go through a shootaround, go through a practice… the swelling, the mobility, all the things you look for have to be in place… and if they are, then we’ll play him. Certainly, we would love to have him.”
Through Xavier’s first two games Jones was averaging 13.5 points while shooting 42.9 percent from the field. He’s adding 7.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.5 steals, and 2.5 turnovers in 27.0 minutes. He’s only attempted one 3-pointer this season and doesn’t have a track record as a high-end perimeter shooter. But Jones is a good off the bounce. He’s generated 18 free throw attempts through two games and made 15 of them (83.3 percent).
FOUR INTERESTING INDIANA ANGLES ON FRIDAY NIGHT
Of course Xavier coach Sean Miller is the older brother of former IU head coach Archie Miller. Sean had some harsh words directed at Indiana fans in March as he discussed their NCAA Tournament first round game against Wyoming.
“The fans at Indiana work against Indiana,” Sean Miller said on the Field of 68. “Because the second Wyoming goes up 2-0, they start to boo the coach and the players. By the time you get to halftime, it will be a pro-Wyoming crowd.”
Wyoming went up 3-2 early in that contest, but no booing was detected. Miller also predicted a Wyoming win in that game during the same segment.
While Sean Miller’s comments might be what actually generates booing from Indiana fans, there will be love from the IU sideline directed towards the Musketeers bench.
In fact, two members of the IU coaching staff are only in Bloomington because of the Miller connection.
IU assistant Kenya Hunter worked under Sean at Xavier from 2004 to 2007, and his fellow assistant Brian Walsh played at Xavier under Sean from 2008 to 2010.
Moreover, IU Director of Athletic Performance Clif Marshall began working in college basketball when he was hired to work as a as a speed and agility coach at Xavier from 2014-17 under Chris Mack. He’s also at IU because of Miller connections, as he worked with the Dayton program in 2015 when Archie was the head coach there.
Jones’ injury did not lead to more playing time for former Indiana forward Jerome Hunter, who is in his second season at Xavier.
Hunter had a highly productive season-opener with 11 points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes. But he’s only played a total of 16 minutes and has not scored in the last two games.
Hunter will turn 23 in December, but because of a redshirt season in 2018-19, and the COVID year, he still has two years of eligibility remaining including the current campaign.
The 6-foot-7 Hunter played under Archie Miller during his three years in Bloomington. He played in 55 games over two seasons, including 25 games with four starts as a redshirt sophomore when he averaged 6.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game, while ranking third on the team with 25 3-point field goals.
Hunter entered the transfer portal in May of 2021, after Mike Woodson was hired by Indiana. He did not return calls at the time to discuss the move. Woodson later described Hunter’s exit as a mutual parting of ways.
Xavier’s leading scorer is a name IU fans may know for multiple reasons.
6-foot-11 center Jack Nunge is an Indiana native (Newburgh, Ind., Castle H.S.) who played four injury-riddled seasons at Iowa. Along with Jones, Nunge was also preseason first-team All-Big East. He’s averaging 18 points and 6.3 rebounds through Xavier’s first three contests while shooting 64.5 percent from the field overall including 62.5 percent (5-of-8) from three.
His younger brother Bob Nunge is a walk-on in the Xavier program.
Nunge was a 2017 Indiana All-Star at Castle and sparked his team to a berth in the Class 4A Semistate as a senior where they lost to eventual state champion Indianapolis Ben Davis. He averaged 22.8 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.5 blocks as a senior while being named First Team All-State.
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