Xavier v. Gardner Webb: Boxscore Breakdown

It has to be a nightmare to try to finish over Jalen Reynolds. - Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Rejected titles: "Calm down, Brandon Randolph" "Get some, Matt Stainbrook" "Basketball is back"

This one begins with Matt Stainbrook. Xavier's transfer center made up for his redshirt year by putting up 13/12/1 with a block and a turnover on 4-6/0-0/5-5 shooting. Even though Gardner Webb isn't the toughest opponent on the schedule, but Stainbrook's performance came against 6'11", 250-pound center Mike Byron, who is a defensive specialist. Stainbrook will play against tougher team defenses, but his performance today was about as smoothly efficient as you could ask after a year off.

Semaj's performance was good but not great. He got a team-leading 14/3/4 but put up 3 TO and shot 3-7/1-1/7-13. Christon didn't seem to be looking to force his way into the game; there were a number of occasions where he passed up possible shots to get his teammates involved in the game. He seemed especially attentive to the freshmen, getting his former Brewster Academy teammate Jalen Reynolds some post touches early and a thunderous alley-oop finish in the second half.

Brandon Randolph was an absolute firecracker tonight. He made things - both good and bad - happen on both ends of the court, ending up with 12/3/7 with 2 steals and just one turnover on 4-11/1-3/3-4 shooting. His shot selection demonstrated the fact that he was in attack mode every time he touched the ball, but he made good decisions with ball distribution and kept it away from the sticky fingers of the Gardner Webb defense. With Randolph and Christon on the floor at the same time, Xavier can move at a pace few teams will be able to comfortably match.

There were some signs of first-game jitters from the Muskies. The most glaring is the team's gruesome 22-40 performance from the line. Matt Stainbrook and Brandon Randolph combined to go 9-10 from the line; the rest of the team was 13-30. Xavier was troubled by their performance from the line last season, and this was not an auspicious start to this season. Fifteen turnovers, while not a killing number in its own right, is also something of a cause for minor alarm.

James Farr went bananas in a season opener for the second consecutive year. He added 10/9/0 with a steal to his 14/4/0 from last year's first game. Farr shot 4-5/1-1/1-2 but more importantly looked limber and active at both ends. It's hard to put it any other way than to say that he looks like he's in better control of his body than he was at this point last year, and I hope it continues for the young man.

I would also be remiss if I didn't touch on the number and nature of the fouls called in the game. There were 28 called in the first half and 24 in the second, both of which are enough to disrupt the flow of a game pretty heavily. The most notable effects of the rule changes came on hedges, where pretty much any meaningful contact was called as a defensive foul. Block/charge rules were also notably different; I'm not sure what it's going to take to get called for a charge in the NCAA this year, but it's going to be pretty severe.

Odds and ends:
-Donta Harper scored 20 on 7-16/0-2/6-8 shooting for Gardner Webb.

-Myles Davis was 1-2 from deep but left the game after playing 9 first-half minutes. He had an apparent leg injury and did not return. We'll keep you posted as we hear.

-Justin Martin started out tentatively but ended with 6 and 4 on 2-8/1-3/1-2 shooting. Martin took a blow to the head in the second half and left the game immediately.

-Isaiah Philmore was limited by foul trouble, but he only needed 11 minutes to score 8 points, grab 3 boards, and shoot 3-5/0-0/2-3.

That's it from me for now. Dad was otherwise occuppied tonight, so his take will (hopefully) return for the UT game. Stay tuned for Brad's narrative analysis tomorrow and Xavier coverage all season long.

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