Almost hero time. Also, shave that caterpillar off your lip, Charlon Kloof. - USA TODAY Sports
Rejected titles: "Semagic"
What happened: Xavier 66 - St. Bonaventure 64
I was going to let Brad write the early recap. I've been getting out of bed at 5am to go work 12-hour days; I was going to hit the rack as soon as Joe told me the final for a bit of much-needed sleep. Then the Semagic happened.
Xavier had gone on their trademark reverse run early in the second half, using five scoreless minutes to turn a four-point halftime lead into a tie game. On the road. In the conference. St. Bonaventure had momentum and the home crowd and, when they went up four with 5:20 left, things looked fairly dark for Xavier. Then Semaj stepped in, scoring nine points on 1-2/0-0/7-9 shooting in the last 5:11 of the game. Xavier erased the deficit with a 15-9 run in that time, thanks largely to their talismanic freshman point guard. Christon finished with 19/3/10 with four TO, a steal and a block on 6-14/0-1/7-9 shooting.
Of course, it may not have been so dramatic if Xavier had looked to the post for Travis Taylor more often. Despite having to look over his shoulder for shot-blocking specialist Youssou Ndoye all game, Taylor got 11/7/0 and a steal on 5-6/0-0/1-2 shooting. Taylor was once again a steady influence for the Muskies throughout his 29 minutes. Almost as importantly, the senior from Union, NJ (that's how Byron introduces him, and I love it) didn't turn the ball over at all.
Brad Redford started in the backcourt with Darwin Davis, Jr. once again unavailable, and he was just what the doctor ordered for Xavier. Coach Mack said in his post-gamre comments with Byron and Joe that the plan was to let Redford bring the ball up if St. Bonaventure was going to run and jump at Semaj, and that's exactly what happened. The pride of Frankenmuth was unflappable against sustained pressure, initiating the offense with Semaj off the ball without turning it over. Redford also found time to be his usual self from behind the arc, putting up 17/2/0 on 6-16/5-11/0-0 shooting. That's a few more misses in the line than you hope to see from him, but Redford filled in admirably in Davis' absence.
We said yesterday in our article about consistency that Isaiah Philmore is the most likely on the team to score his average, and he made us look good by getting 6/5/0 on 3-6/0-1/0-2 shooting. Three of his boards were offensive, including two that came on the same possession off of Redford misses and resulted in a big bucket for Philmore to give Xavier the lead with 1:52 left. On the other hand, I also said that I believe in Jeff Robinson, and he Jeff Robinsoned along for 4/2/0 on 2-5/0-0/0-0 shooting. Even worse, he scored the first basket of the game before basically going invisible for the duration. Sigh.
Odds and ends:
-Xavier outrebounded St. Bonnie 26-21, including 12-5 on the offensive end. With rebounding being a key for tonight's game, that was a big win for X.
-The Muskies assisted 13 of their 26 made buckets. Not great, but not horrible.
-Xavier's six turnovers in tonight's game were a season low.
-The Muskies shot 8-13 from the line. Ugh.
-St. Bonnie shot .523/.375/.706, numbers much better than Xavier had been forcing team into of late. A lot of credit for that goes to Youssou Ndoye's 7-8 from the floor.
-JMart had 7/3/2 on 3-9/1-6/0-0 shooting. X is going to need Redford to keep hitting five threes a game if JMart keeps playing like that.
(My dad is an old-school basketball guy and a die-hard X fan, and he and I text throughout the games from time to time. His opinions can be both insightful and entertaining, especially pulled from their context. Below is a sampling of his offerings tonight.)
-"Christon does not want to shoot and they are playing way off him."
-"Red tried to take a charge off their big guy. It wasn't pretty."
-"Got to get Taylor back involved in the game."
-"Christon needs to learn to shoot a jumper."
-"Red gets free again and buries it."
-"Christon looked poor in that first half."
-"Again not a good start to the second half."
-"Rob just missed a dunk. Sad."
-"Red just buried it from the corner on that inbounds play. They must have have looked at any X film to be surprised by that."
-"Finally Taylor gets another shot. Got to feed him and make that big dude play defense."
-"Amos just ate that guy up on defense."
-"Philmore has no business shooting the three. Big sissy needs to get under the basket!"
-"We are letting them get confident. Semaj stinks."
-"Red from deeeeeeeeepppppppp!"
-"Good move: force the action and get to the line."
-"Ooh, tough call on Taylor."
-"Like I keep saying, get the ball to Semaj!"
-"We had it all the way!"
-"Good move to keep Rob sitting. He probably thought we were losing, need to foul. Or he was going to knee it out." (NB: my dad can be just a touch bitter)
-"That win was something. They never quit. Must be senior leadership."
That's it from me. I'm going to bed. Brad will be here in the morning.