At the end of the game, there's one statistic that matters, and that's the final score. Xavier was on the right end of that one today, taking the Musketeers to a somewhat unexpected 3-0 record. With three home wins under the team's belt, the Muskies will be heading west for the Anaheim Classic over the Thanksgiving weekend on a good note.
Before we get to some individual stats, there are a couple of things that happened on the team level that made this Xavier's ugliest game of the season. After a couple of very impressive efforts from Xavier's back court, Semaj Christon and Dee Davis each had five turnovers, contributing to the 15 on the game for the Muskies. Xavier's last turnover came with 4:06 left in the game; stemming that tide was vital to Xavier holding onto the narrow victory.
We also mentioned in our preview that Robert Morris was relentless on the boards and targeted that as an important area of the game for Xavier. Robert Morris beat Xavier 28-27 in rebounding, but - more importantly - the Colonials grabbed 11 offensive boards to Xavier's 5. Somewhat miraculously, Robert Morris only got seven second-chance points; the damage done by the offensive rebounding could have been much worse.
Justin Martin led the team in scoring, going for 17/4/0 on 6-9/4-6/1-3 shooting. Martin came to Xavier with a reputation as a big-time scorer and, after sitting out a year as a partial qualifier and playing to a less-than-impressive level last season, he looks the part early this year. He scored in a variety of ways, showing range from well behind the arc and the ability to put the ball on the deck and score. If he can continue to be that kind of weapon for the Muskies, he'll be a fixture in the lineup all year.
Darwin Davis didn't play to the same level he has set for himself this season. He shot 6-10/2-6/1-2 and put up 15/2/3, but he turned the ball over five times and seemed to be having trouble finding his rhythm on offense. His back court running mate Semaj Christon went for 12/1/6 on 4-6/0-0/4-7 shooting but also had five turnovers. Christon looked capable of splitting the defensive shell on the perimeter almost at will and he caused havoc for the Colonials. He took a couple of rough falls throughout the game, clearly wasn't ready to test his elbow from range, and ended the game on the bench getting some sort of lower body injury worked on. The talented freshman was able to make an impact on the game while obviously not playing at 100%.
Odds and ends: -Brad Redford was uncharacteristically poor from deep, going 0-5 despite having some fairly clean looks. His two FT with 37 seconds left iced the game for Xavier, though, so it wasn't a complete loss.
-Karvel Anderson found his stroke for Robert Morris today, putting up 17 points off the bench on 7-13/3-8/0-0 shooting.
-Jeff Robinson had a fairly meek 7/4/0 on 2-3/0-0/3-4 shooting, but he came up with a couple of very big blocks and his steal led to Dee Davis' three at the end of the first half.
-Travis Taylor rebounded like a man, grabbing seven boards on the game while fighting off Robert Morris' crashing guards.
-On the whole, this game reminded me of the Hawai'i game last year. You just kept waiting for Xavier to put together a run, but it never happened. It was a dogfight the whole way, but this time the opponents' buzzer-beating heave came up a hair shy.
That's it from me. Xavier is back in action on Thanksgiving Day against Pacific.
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