What happened: Xavier 77 - Miami (OH) 51
This team is really, really deep. Perhaps the best illustration of that tonight was the performance of reserve forward James Farr, who jumped onto the court for 16 minutes off the bench. Farr posted 11/11/0 with 2 blocks and a turnover on 5-9/1-1/0-0 shooting. After getting only 42 minutes of playing time the entire season last year, Farr has easily eclipsed that number already this season and has emerged as a disruptive force on both ends of the floor for this team. His shooting touch and size got him his scholarship, but it has been his energy on the glass and his ability to challenge shots that have gotten him his minutes.
A player whose performance was much less of a doubt coming into the year is Darwin Davis, Jr. After sitting out the first two games to make things fair for the opponents, Dee has been a one-man storm for Xavier. All he did today was shoot 6-7/3-4/0-0 en route to 15/3/5 with a steal and 2 TO in 27 minutes of play. Perhaps the best part of Dee's game today was how little he appeared to be hunting shots, instead getting the ball out in transition and moving it around the floor in the half court before taking advantage of the space Miami's defense was affording him. Today's game was a study in beautiful efficiency for Xavier's diminutive point man.
What was more brutal than beautiful on the efficiency scale was Xavier's defensive effort in the 20+ minutes that straddled the half. X got off to its usual slow start, trailing 18-17 with 10:12 left in the first half, before locking down the RedHawks. By the time Miami got their next 18 points, 21:26 had come off the clock, Xavier had scored 44 points, and the game had gone from tightly contested to the foregone conclusion that it always should have been. It's axiomatic that some individual players need time to warm into a game on offense; it appears this year that Xavier's team defense need ten minutes or so to really warm up.
Semaj wasn't a sterling force for good from the floor today, needing 3-11/1-3/6-7 shooting to get his 13/2/8 with 3 steals and 3 turnovers. The important parts of his line are fairly obvious, but I'm just going to point out his performance from the free-throw stripe. After limping to an 11-27 showing from the line to start the year, Christon's 6-7 tonight was a) a good sign and b) enough to get him back to .500 from the stripe. Hopefully this is the start of a new day for him from the line, because he's going to get there a lot this season.
A huge part of Xavier's defensive prowess in the second half was their ability to end possessions with defensive boards. On the game, Miami had 36 live-ball misses from the floor or the stripe, and Xavier ran down 28 of them for defensive boards, which is simply outstanding. X got boards from just about everywhere, with Farr and Reynolds coming off the bench to get 11 each. Teams get tight on offense when they know they're going one and done; don't underestimate the value of defensive rebounding in diminishing an opponent's output over the course of the game.
Odds and ends:
-Jalen Reynolds had 11 boards today and only one shot attempt, which he made.
-Stainbrook had a nearly silent 10/5/1 on 5-7/0-0/0-0 shooting with 2 blocks and no turnovers. Sneaky good game for the big man.
-Myles Davis remained convinced that his next three was going to drop, gunning his way to 6/1/1 on 2-7/2-7/0-0 shooting.
-In the possession that featured the walk-ons, Brandon Randolph took the only shot. I do hope a senior pulled him aside and explained to him that the dudes paying to play need to be fed.
-Isaiah Philmore was nursing a wrist injury and was held out of the game for what I'm being told were purely precautionary reasons.
Dad was travelling for business today and ended up in a place with neither cell reception nor high-speed internet. Assuming he makes it back, his take will be back live next week.
That's all from me. Stay tuned for the narrative recap from Brad, Xavier's next game (against Abilene Christian on Monday), and all the news that is news between now and then.