What happened: Xavier 69 - Drexel 65
In a recent Sunday Converstion, Brad and I discussed whether or not the team needed a "killer" to be able to take over a tight game late on. We didn't settle anything (we rarely do), but Semaj Christon put in his two cents today. After a fairly stagnant first half in which Xavier stood around looking at each other at both ends of the court, Semaj went on the attack.
Several times in the second half, Xavier showed a set that had Christon at the bottom of the lane with screens on each side and the option to curl into the lane or step behind the arc. He was able to catch the ball with his man on his hip and attack the lane. Christon showcased an array of runners in the lane on his way to 23/3/6 on 10-14/0-1/3-3 shooting and only one turnover.
The Muskies used an 11-4 run to begin the second half to establish a six-point lead. From that point forward, Drexel was able to get the game as close as two and Xavier was able to get the lead out to as many as eight, but the game stayed nip and tuck the whole way without any lead changes.
Getting to the half down one was a painful process for Xavier. They were brutally stagnant on both ends, and compounded their problems by allowing 12 points off of 9 turnovers. Only some scoring for Jeff Robinson (7 points) and timely shooting from Brad Redford (7 points on 2-2/2-2/1-1 shooting) kept the Musketeers in the game. Darwin Davis was a large part of the problem, collecting all four of his turnovers in the first twenty minutes of play.
Bench production was an issue tonight. Xavier's reserves combined for 7/3/2 on 2-11/2-8/1-1 shooting. James Farr was particularly unsuccessful in imposing his will on the game, managing to commit three fouls in ninety seconds of play in the first half before retreating to his natural habitat. It's not a surprise to anyone that Xavier is thin this year, but a little more than that is going to be required of the second unit going forward.
Justin Martin brought his pathos with him today, flashing elite athleticism to grab several huge boards on his way to 12/9/2 on 3-3/1-1/5-6 shooting with two steals. I love the efficiency and his attacking attitude on the glass, but he was still fairly passive on the offensive end. Xavier will be better served this season by a more aggressive Justin Martin.
Odds and ends:
-Dee Davis was 3-4 from deep and is now 14-27 from beyond the arc this season.
-Jeff Robinson had three offensive boards and ended the game with 13/4/1 on 5-9/1-3/2-2 shooting.
-Travis Taylor had six boards, four turnovers, and three points.
-Xavier's 26-16 advantage on the boards bailed out the defense, which allowed Drexel to shoot .522/.421/.750.
That's it from me for now. Xavier will be back in action against the winner of Rice and Drake at 2:30pm on Sunday.