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Xavier v. St. Louis: Recap

What happened: Xavier 76 - St. Louis 68

That seven foot guy that occasionally gets the ball
I guess winning ugly is better than not winning at all. Xavier jumped ever so slightly to 25th on ESPN's InsideRPI with the win and kept pace with Duquesne in the A10, but this was another subpar effort from a team that had looked to be finding its stride.

Kenny Frease again started the game well, making his first four shots. Xavier also jumped out fast and looked to be riding the home crowd to the easy win that eluded them on Tuesday. Once again, though, the Musketeers faded almost right away.

When Xavier is playing well their offense seems to key off defensive intensity, for the second straight game that intensity was sorely lacking in the second half. St. Louis shot 46% from the floor and even that inflated number was more a reflection of their inability to shoot than of contested shots. Brian Conklin especially seemed to be able to get free whenever he wanted. Make no mistake, the Billikens should have won this game.

Once again it fell to Tu Holloway to save the day and this time, like so many other times, he answered. After scoring only two in the first half, Tu scored 22 of his game high 24 in the second. He again demonstrated some of the poor decision making that plagued him at Charlotte, but it wasn't as crippling here. With his stroke seemingly back, Holloway was back to nearly his best.

It's fortunate that Holloway (and Mark Lyons) didn't need a break, because the bench was useless yet again. Jeff Robinson receded back into this mists from which he had briefly appeared with a 2-1-0 showing and Andrew Taylor's 4-2-0 was nice, but isn't worthy of sixth man minutes. Sadly, he's the only choice. If Jay Canty has anything to offer, now would be a time for him to show it.

Game balls:

Tu Holloway- It gets a bit mundane, but it's nice to see him back. 24-5-1 would be a monster game from anyone else but seemed run of the mill for Tu. When he's on, he's unstoppable, and he was determined to win this game.

Mark Lyons: 15-4-7 from Cheeks on a night where he didn't have to carry the offense is fantastic. Whatever it was that was ailing him early in the year has gone now, and he's playing in a manner befitting the way he carries himself. He and Holloway combined for 80 minutes, something that may become commonplace.

Not so much:

Jeff Robinson- Figure it out man! Robinson is freakishly athletic, a decent shooter, and possessed of all of the confidence fat debutant. He needs to be more aggressive with ball and get to the rim. Too often one mistake sends Jeff back into his shell and that was the case again today.

Final thoughts: If you have to lay an egg, do it in a game you can win. Xavier impressed no one this week and certainly won't deserve to be ranked yet. Last week, this looked like a Sweet 16 team, this week it looked like a first weekend washout.

Next game: @ Georgia on Tuesday. The game will be live on ESPNU @7pm.