Because my current living situation doesn't afford me the luxury of cable, there is a certain amount of games that I'm not able to see played. Thanks to the miracle of the internet, however, I can still access the box score and provide some less nuanced analysis of the game. The live gamecasts of cbssports.com and the Enquirer's Shannon Russell, as well as Ms. Russell's blog and post-game recaps, are invaluable resources in this kind of game reconstruction.
It was apparent from the outset that Albany was going to dare a Xavier team that was making fewer than 30% of its threes to win the game from the outside. With Tu Holloway deferring - probably due to the fatigue of his trip back to Cinci - and the post either cut off or quickly shut down, it was going to fall to Dante and/or Cheek to step up and set the tone. Lyons' line of 18-1-5 on 6-11 shooting including 6-9 from behind the arc jumps off the page; just as importantly, he had 15 of his points in the first half when Albany was making overtures at staying in the game.
Dante's 14-4-4 didn't hurt either, but his 4-12 from behind the arc belies the fact that he hit 4 of his first 5 threes. At some point during an 0-7 run from behind the arc, you'd like to see the senior realize that the hot hand has passed him by. Tu warmed up to the game in the second half and once again proved he can influence the game without volume shooting by posting 11-3-9 on only 6 FGA. He only turned the ball over once in the game and "only" played 32 minutes, down about 7 from his average.
The difference between Kenny and McLean's lines illustrates their respective games. McLean went for 15-11-1 on 5-7 from the floor and 5-9 from the line. Six of his eleven rebounds were offensive, and he only turned the ball over once. Big Kenny got 17-9-3 on 7-8 and 3-3; he had two offensive boards and four turnovers. This would seem to indicate that Kenny's involvement comes from having the ball thrown in to him on the post, where he spends time with the ball in his hands while he goes to work or looks for an open man off the double team. McLean got more from scramble situations, where his athleticism allows him to beat opponents to the ball and then the rim.
Odds and ends:
-Xavier's tally of 24 assists on 33 buckets to only 13 turnovers is nice to see. Without a Crawford-like scorer to take over the game, the extra pass is important to this team.
-After the cluster at Gonzaga, Kenny and McLean combined for a single foul last night. I wonder if they were coached to make an adjustment, or if the officiating was just that much better.
-Lyons' three-point percentage jumped from .285 to .353 last night. He is still only shooting .368 from the floor, which hasn't stopped him taking more shots than anyone but Tu.
-Xavier out-rebounded Albany 37-21 last night; this can probably be traced directly to Kenny and McLean staying out of foul trouble.
-Other than Kenny and Cheek each having four, no Xavier player turned the ball over more than once.
-Xavier managed 13 bench points from 42 bench minutes. The reserves also chipped in nine boards and two assists.
Next game: v. Florida, 4pm Friday.