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Xavier v. St. Louis: Recap

Alright, so we love Dante.
What happened: Xavier 66-St. Louis 55

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Xavier takes early lead against completely beatable team, Xavier then takes foot off throttle and begins to get sloppy, beatable team senses they have a chance to win, Tu Holloway buries beatable team late and does it with some swagger.

Yes, yet again, the Musketeers didn't finish off an inferior opponent that they had on the ropes. And yes, yet again, the Musketeers found a way to win the game. Tu Holloway, of course, featured prominently as Xavier clinched sole ownership of the A10 title.

This game will not ever be entered in an officiating how-to series. That isn't to say that the officiating was bad, it wasn't, it's simply to say that they let them play a bit this afternoon. From the opening jump, bodies littered the floor. Early on, the physicality and pace of the play favored St. Louis, but St. Louis is not very good. A 1-10 start from the floor put the Billikens in a hole from which they could not climb. 

Coach Mack silently thanks God he is not under the bucket
To the Billikens credit, they did try to climb out of the hole. They played a form of defense perhaps more suited to your local YMCA but, on a night fouls were also cause for medical attention, there was nothing wrong with that. With Frease and McLean shut off or beat up down low, it fell to the guards to make the plays. A game like this early in the year would have spelled disaster for Xavier as Lyons or Jackson forced shots and Holloway became visibly frustrated. It's not early in the year anymore now though, and this team has learned how to change focus mid-game.

When the burden fell to Tu and Cheekz, they answered. 17 of Xavier's first 19 came from the potent and never shy backcourt duo. As the crowd rained down abuse, some of it even mildly clever, the guards started easing the big men back into the game. With X up 31-21 at the half and playing stifling defense, this one looked done and dusted. It wasn't.

Know what has bad hair and sucks at basketball? Jordair Jett
St. Louis came out of halftime ready to play. Led by their impressive freshman Mike McCall the Billikens ended up shaving the lead to three. It was then that the Musketeers rinsed and repeated. In a minute and a half burst Tu Holloway put up six points and the lead crept back to 11. From then on, it was only a matter of time. 

Game Balls:

Tu Holloway- At some point you kind of run out of things to say. 25-4-1 and yet another dominant second half. Holloway kept feeding the bigs until it was necessary for him to win the game. And then he did.

Kenny Frease- 10-12-3 from the big man from Massillon. Frease proved to be far too much inside for a St. Louis lineup that looked like it was forced to live off Kenny's leftovers (read: they are quite skinny). Frease and Jamel McLean combined to out-rebound the entire Billiken squad 24-23.

Not so much:

Xavier's defense in the first ten minutes of the second half was appalling. I'm not entirely sure why, but complacency set in. Coach Mack snapped them out of it but against a good team that lapse could be fatal. I award the entire team a "not so much" for that quarter of the game.

Final thoughts:

It was clearly difficult for the players to come off the high of senior night to face an also-ran St. Louis team. Despite that they managed a double-digit win and no one got hurt.

Next game: TBA