What happened: Xavier 62 - Kent State 55
The first half of this game was one of the ugliest displays of basketball you'll ever lay eyes on. Kent State was a futile 8-26/2-12/2-2 shooting and had 6 turnovers to show for their offensive efforts. Speaking of offensive, fans of basketball were no doubt irked by Xavier's 5-24/2-6/6-14 (!) shooting line and 5 turnovers. Rebounds abounded, with Xavier grabbing 21 and Kent State getting 17. The halftime score was 20-18. Sitting on pace for a 40-36 loss with the Crosstown Shootout just around the corner was not where Xavier fans wanted to see the team.
Brad Redford didn't lead the team in scoring, rebounding, or assists, but he was the pivotal figure in the game today. With the game still in the balance with 14:08 left and the Xavier offense struggling to find points, Redford caught a pass out of the post from Erik Stenger and buried a three to take Xavier up 30-29. After back-to-back Xavier possessions ended in turnovers, Redford drilled another three at the 12:58 mark to make the lead four. By the time Red jarred his third three in less than four minutes, Xavier was up 41-33 and in control of the game with 10:12 left. Redford's final line of 14/1/2 on 4-6/4-5/2-2 shooting belies Brad's impact on today's game.
Landen Amos went for 0/2/0 on 0-0/0-0/0-0 shooting, so why does he get his own paragraph? Simply put, his defense on Kent State forward Chris Evans kept Xavier within touching distance of the game in the first half. After Evans had five points within the first three minutes, Amos was part of a group of Xavier forwards that combined to hold Evans scoreless for the next 13 minutes and keep him to just five more points in the game. Evans ended the game with 10/8/0 and 2 TO on 4-18/2-8/0-0 shooting, well below his season averages.
Darwin "Dee" Davis shook off his offensive doldrums a bit today, going for 10/0/4 on 3-6/2-4/2-2 shooting. On a day when Xavier was missing the offensive firepower of Justin Martin, the team desperately needed a second scorer to step up. Davis got into the lane nicely, hit a couple of threes, and generally filled the gap in production quite nicely. Davis had only two turnovers on the day.
Semaj Christon took a bit to get up through the gears, but he still ended the day with 18/2/1 on 6-13/0-0/6-12 shooting. Christon had no trouble getting to the free throw line, but he struggled all game to convert on his opportunities at the stripe. Christon would have easily gotten over 20 points if he had connected on free throws at his usual rate. Despite being visibly frustrated on a couple of occasions, he continued to attack the basket and never succumbed entirely to an offensive funk.
Xavier's frontcourt once again struggled to contribute any meaningful production on the offensive end. Travis Taylor began the day 2-3 from the floor but ended with 8/9/0 on 3-8/0-0/2-2 shooting. Jeff Robinson inexplicably shot multiple three-pointers on his way to a fairly anonymous 1/3/1 on 0-6/0-2/1-4 shooting. Despite playing 26 minutes, Robinson had little discernible positive impact on the game.
Isaiah Philmore followed the Taylor blueprint of rebounding prowess matched with offensive inefficiency, posting 5/8/1 on 2-6/0-1/1-2 shooting. Erik Stenger distinguished himself as the only forward with no turnovers (other than the two-minute cameo for freshman James Farr) and the only forward with more points than field goal attempts. Stenger played 19 minutes and went for 6/5/2 on 1-2/0-0/4-4 shooting with two blocks. Both of Stenger's assists were kickouts from the post for open threes, one each for Davis and Redford. If Robinson doesn't step up soon, he may find himself on the bench cheering Stenger on.
As bad as Xavier's offense was, it bears mention that the team's defense was fairly stout. They held Kent State to 21-65/4-24/9-9 shooting and held the Golden Flashes' two leading scorers to a combined 17 points on 6-35/3-18/2-2 shooting. The only flaw in the defensive effort was rebounding; the 17 offensive boards Xavier conceded led to 16 second-chance points for Kent State.
Odds and ends:
-Kent State forward Melvin Tabb averages 5.6 and 2.8 per game; today he went for 20 and 14 on 9-10/0-0/2-2 shooting.
-Xavier had 11 assists on 19 buckets for an assist rate of 57.9%; 9 of those assists came on Xavier's 14 second-half buckets.
-Erik Stenger led the team with three offensive boards.
-Xavier forced 14 turnovers against the only 7 assists Kent State tallied.
That's it from me for now. Dad is watching the game on TiVo delay, so I'll be back later with his thoughts. Also stick around for Brad's narrative recap and our coverage of Xavier's week off for finals.