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Xavier v. Hawai'i: Recap

What happened: Hawai'i 84 - Xavier 82

When the Diamond Head Classic field was published, my first concern was that Xavier might go and pick up three wins that - outside of Long Beach State - wouldn't make the team look any better. Two games into the event, one thing is for sure: Xavier is not going to come out of it looking any better. For the first time in the Coach Mack era, Xavier has lost three games in a row, and the season that looked so bright heading into the Crosstown Shootout has now put a foul taste in the mouths of Muskie fans.

The game started brightly for Xavier. Justin Martin hit a lay-in and a couple of threes, Mark Lyons knocked down a nice little scoop shot, and X was up 12-0 before the first media timeout. Xavier made the same mistake that Purdue and Vanderbilt did against the Muskies though; they allowed Hawai'i to hang around. Defensive effort was at a premium for Xavier today - a point that Coach Mack is surely not happy about - and the team often looked like it felt confident enough in its own ability to score that allowing the occasional easy basket at the other end wasn't that big of a deal.

After being up 11 at the half, X turned the ball over off the inbound to begin the first half and the Warriors had cut it to nine. That seemed to put a spark into X, however, and the lead lingered in double digits for a good portion of the second half. Six and a half minutes into the period, Xavier was up 61-46 and looking like good money for the lead. Then the wheels fell off.

Things got flat out bad for Xavier from that point forward. Hawai'i ended the game on a 38-21 run, including overtime, which was enough to doom X. After allowing 46 points in 27 minutes, Xavier allowed 38 in the final 18. Defense that was poor to begin with got downright abysmal as the game wore on. Xavier looked like they flipped it into coast mode when up 15 and had real trouble getting back into gear.

Worse still, Xavier looked stagnant at both ends of the court. Much of the offense was spent waiting for Tu or Cheeks to make a play. Kenny Frease scored 13 points, but his game was again marred by foul trouble and missed opportunities. Tu posted 26, for what that's worth, and Cheeks had 18. After scoring the first 8 points of the game, Justin Martin missed a couple of jumpers and then largely went silent. Brad Redford continued to struggled, extending his streak of missed three-point attempts to 16 straight.

Down at the wire, Xavier needed one more stop than they could get. At the end of regulation, the Warriors were able to force overtime on a double-clutch three from Hauns Brerton that was, in all fairness, pretty well defended. In OT, Xavier allowed Hawai'i too many easy looks at the bucket and paid for it by ending up with Travis Taylor at the line, shooting two, with X trailing by one. Taylor managed to split the free throws, but X once again gave up a simple shot at the other end, with two Muskies following the ball handler off a screen while Joston Thomas - who had been crushing Xavier all day - sauntered unopposed to the rim. Help defense arrived too late and, by the time Thomas' shot finished rolling around the rim, you could practically see Xavier in the "receiving votes" section of this week's AP poll.

The suspensions didn't help again today, and Dezmine Wells makes a two-point difference, no question. Despite that, a Xavier team with four of its starting five ready to go shouldn't even be competing with Hawai'i, let alone getting beaten by them. XU looked complacent and overconfident for much of the game; by the time they realized there was the potential for a loss, it was too late for Xavier to get back in gear and put the game away. A bitter pill for the Muskies and their fans to swallow. Xavier is a very talented squad, but tonight's game showed that they've got a long way to go before the output matches the potential.