What happened: Xavier 79 - Morehead State 56
It started a little slowly for the Muskies tonight (again), but everything turned out okay, thanks in large part to Semaj Christon (also again). Semaj was sterling in almost every regard, putting up 20/1/5 with just 1 TO on 10-13/0-0/0-4 shooting. That 0-4 from the line leaves Semaj at 11-27 (.407) on FT this season. The new rules regarding contact are making Christon nearly impossible to stay in front of without fouling, but he is going to need to start converting to turn his frequent trips to the line into an advantage rather than an Achilles heal.
Your friend and mine (but mostly mine) Darwin Davis, Jr. returned from his concussion to game action tonight as part of a three-guard lineup for Xavier. In 35 minutes, he put up 7/5/9 with 3 steals and 4 TO on 3-6/1-3/0-0 shooting. Last year, Davis was asked to shoulder a big load of the offensive responsibilities, and he bore up under it inconsistently. With a deeper array of scoring options around him, he is able to do less looking for his own shot this year and instead play his natural game. His 4 TO were less than ideal, but that can be written off to rustiness if you're feeling charitable. I'm inclined to believe we're going to see a better year for Dee this year as he can slot in and just play to his skill set.
Xavier's frontcourt showed up today, playing a good rebounding team to a draw on the glass at 34 each. Starting center Matt Stainbrook only shot four field goals but got his 7/10/2 with a steal and 3 blocks on 1-4/0-0/5-7 shooting. Stainbrook's court vision from the post has been a delight early in the season; he simply does a good job of making good choices on the post and kicking to the appopriate teammate when the situation dictates.
Isaiah Philmore was efficient in scoring (10 points on 4-5/0-0/2-2 shooting) but even more efficient in picking up fouls (4 in 16 minutes). James Farr did his best to go one better than Philmore in both regards, scoring 8 on 3-4/1-1/1-1 while committing 3 fouls in just 7 minutes. Jalen Reynolds had 11/6/0 with 2 blocks on 3-6/0-0/5-6 shooting. His monster athleticism was on display all night, as he altered shots, rebounded out of his area, and threw down a massive lob from Dee. And then there's Erik Stenger's 4/1/1 on 1-2/0-0/2-2 shooting. Xavier has a lot of depth in the forward/center positions this year, which is a welcome change from the last couple of seasons.
Xavier had 20 assists on 28 made baskets, which is a huge positive for the Musketeers. X was 292nd in the country in assists per field goal last year and 214th early on this year. The Muskies certainly have players with the skill to get their own shots, but being able to effectively share the ball makes a team so much more difficult to defend. With the depth on this side right now, there's no reason they shouldn't be moving the ball around and putting pressure on the defense from all angles.
Odds and ends:
-Xavier was 11-19 from the line in the first half but pulled it together to go 10-11 in the second half.
-X was called for 29 fouls, Morehead 27. That's an average of a foul every 42 seconds.
-Xavier had 14 turnovers, split evenly between the halves. This is not a great number, but also not an awful one.
-There were 68 free throws taken.
-Chad Posthumus had 12 boards, which was probably pretty neat for him.
-"Randolph is a walking TO!"
-"MARTIN IS BACK! TAKE HEART!"
-"[Semaj] stinks from the line."
-"The refs are killing my man Phil."
-As Dee started scoring: "Dee-lightful." "Dee-lightful for three."
-"Can Semaj just elect to check it up top rather than taking the free throw?"
-"Dante resplendent in purple."
-"These refs must be related to the guys from Morehead."
-"10 fouls in 4:42? Unreal, and I like rules!"
-"We're going to need to bring guys in from the stands if they keep calling fouls like this."
-"There is no flow to the game because of the whistle."
-"Farr saved Semaj another turnover."
-"Farr! Can we just leave him at the offensive end?"
-"The game that wouldn't end. Good to win it; bad to watch it."
That's it from me. As always, stay tuned for Brad's narrative recap tomorrow morning. Xavier is back in action against Miami (OH) Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013, 8:00 PM at the Cintas Center.