What happened: Charlotte 63 - Xavier 57
You'll hear a lot about the officials in tonight's loss to Charlotte, and that's because they were awful. Xavier was called for 27 fouls to Charlotte's 15, and Charlotte shot 29 free throws to Xavier's 9. That hurt Xavier, but it's not what killed them. Instead, the Muskies were flat-out incompetent on the offensive end. They ended the game with a shooting line of .373/.273/.500, turned the ball over 16 times, and had 5 - five - assists on 25 made baskets. There were a lot of things that hurt Xavier during the course of the game, but that show of blanket incompetence on the offensive end - often shooting from very close to the bucket - submarined Xavier's hopes before they ever really had a chance.
Of the 25 buckets Xavier made, 9 of them belonged to Travis Taylor as part of his 9-16/0-0/0-1 shooting line. Taylor went for 18/11/1 with 3 steals in just 25 minutes of game time before fouling out. One of our keys to the game was keeping Taylor out of foul trouble, and Xavier obviously wasn't able to do that. The officials obviously didn't help, but neither did Taylor's picking up a technical for woofing at the refs. Charlotte had no answer for Taylor in the paint; if he could have stayed in the game, he likely could have helped turn the result in Xavier's favor.
Of the remaining 16 buckets Xavier made, 8 of them belonged to Semaj. Christon was good for 8-16/0-1/2-4 shooting on his way to 18/5/1 with 3 steals. Christon also had 5 turnovers, so it wasn't all good from him. Christon was frustrated by Charlotte's pressure defense, but he still found a way to influence the game with his scoring. Their were some warts on Semaj's performance, but all in all it wasn't his fault that Xavier came up short tonight. He and Taylor came to play, but they had precious little help from their supporting cast.
Jeff Robinson and Justin Martin need to be the dependable tertiary scoring options for this Xavier team if they want to go anywhere. Instead, the two crapped the bed to the tune of 7/11/0 on 3-13/1-5/0-1 shooting. Martin was a highly regarded wing scorer coming out of high school; Robinson is a 6'10" senior with the athletic ability and technical skills to score in bunches. Instead, the two linger passively around the periphery of the game, waiting for Semaj to make something happen or Travis Taylor to make plays on the post. The team doesn't need either player to step forward and start demanding a usage rate in the 25% range, but they both need to be able to answer the bell enough to take the pressure off of Taylor and Christon. They flat-out failed to do any of that today.
They was plenty of other statistical flostam and jetsam from this game. Brad Redford went for 5/3/2 on 2-3/1-2/0-0 shooting and never really influenced the game. Dee Davis was 1-9. Stenger and Philmore combined to go 2-10 from the floor. Redford's 2 assists led the team. The most frustrating facet of the game wasn't any of that, though. St. Joseph's and Butler, two of the teams picked to be right in the mix for the A-10 title, lost today, giving Xavier a chance to establish themselves and VCU as the prohibitive favorites for a first-round bye in the conference tournament. Instead, they left a winnable game on the floor in Charlotte. They had some help from the officials, but this one ultimately falls on the team's inability to score the basketball at critical points.
Odds and ends:
-Charlotte had 9 blocked shots on the night.
-Xavier had 15 offensive rebounds and beat Charlotte 37 to 31 on the boards.
-Xavier had 10 steals.
-Taylor, Christon, and Robinson all fouled out, and Philmore and Davis each had four.
-Charlotte was a miserable 14-29 from the line.
(My dad is an old-school basketball guy and a die-hard X fan, and he and I text throughout the games from time to time. His opinions can be both insightful and entertaining, especially pulled from their context. Below is a sampling of his offerings tonight.)
-"TiVo didn't take. I'm picking up at 13:28 with X down 1 and Taylor on the bench. Redford has not shot yet."
-"Stenger, Martin, Robinson for frontline is not impressive."
-"Christon into the lane and gets beaten like a redheaded stepchild."
-"47 to 39 with 8:57 to go. This one is over, write it down."
-"Nice pass from Taylor to finally get Red free for the shot. That was money!"
-"38% from the floor so far; that is pathetic."
-"We are getting shots blocked like it's our job."
-"Ohhhh my gosh, another block."
-"We have only attempted 6 FT and they have attempted 19?"
-"Semaj has to learn to shoot a jump shot."
-"Don't pass the ball to Robinson."
-"Taylor's at least trying; he deserves better."
-"The officiating is suspect at best."
-"Red with a two! At least it was novel."
-"These [officials] can't even administer a free throw."
-"We were abysmal. Those refs were worse than bad."
That's it from me. Brad will be here first thing in the morning with the narrative recap and the tweet of the night.