What is your favorite basketball fundamental? Is it boxing out? Maybe stopping penetration? Do you love it when a team makes free throws? Nothing get the hear racing quite like some good, solid, defensive rotation? How about just a good solid screen or a well executed pick and roll? Taking care of the ball on offense? If you're a Xavier fan, you saw none of that today. The Musketeers were just complete and utter garbage down in the Bahamas and got comprehensively destroyed by a Volunteers squad they had beaten earlier in the year.
Most disturbing about the way Xavier played was the complete lack of fire they showed during the game. The Musketeers were within one with 11:59 to play in the first half, and then just vanished. After Xavier did such a great job on Stokes and Maymon the first time the teams met, they let the Tennessee bigs walk all over them today. 26 second chance points propelled the Volunteers away from Xavier, who had only four. Despite the presence of James Farr (6/6/1), Jalen Reynolds (0/0/0), Isaiah Philmore (8/1/0), and Matt Stainbrook (10/5/0), Xavier got crushed on the glass to the tune of 41-29, and allowed 16 offensive rebounds.
It's not as if the frontcourt let down an inspired effort from the starting guards either, Davis and Christon combined to go 2-14 from the floor and post a line of 4/1/3. They also turned the ball over five times and missed time in both halves by getting themselves into significant foul trouble. Justin Martin (4/3/1) didn't turn the ball over but didn't set the world on fire either.
It wasn't all bad news (though it was close), because the bench was actually rather useful. Brandon Randolph was aggressive from the jump, the only Musketeer who was, and went for 8/5/2. Farr's line can be seen above and, though the announcers didn't miss a chance to criticize him for it, was feisty even late in the game. Myles Davis (9/2/1) was 2-4 from deep but did most of his damage after the game was long since out of reach.
Tennessee played until after midnight last night and also lost a game they should have won. UTEP instead destroyed the Volunteers and it was tempting to think they might be in for a letdown. Instead, it was Xavier who played with a massive hangover from the game before. Iowa was always likely to make one game very difficult, but they shouldn't have had this big an impact on two. Both the coaching staff and the players bear a lot of responsibility for the way that this game turned out. A promising start to the season has somehow become a distant memory in just two days.
- Can Semaj go? He did, but he was awful. Cramping wasn't an issue but foul trouble in the first half and a genuine lack of drive throughout the game certainly were. Semaj lost a 25 game double digit scoring streak today and didn't do anything terribly efficacious to try to keep that from happening. He was bad.
- What's plan B? There isn't one. 49 points, 40% from the floor, and 30% from the line are indicative of a team that is not going to score when Semaj isn't clicking. Brandon Randolph and Myles Davis tried, and some of the struggles Stainbrook had are down to the defense, but this was a rotten offensive performance.
- Do we dare hope this is the new JMart? It's not. Martin wasn't bad by any means, but he was once again missing in a game where the Musketeers needed some real help. A solid game won't get the job done when no one else is doing anything at all.