What happened: Xavier 68 - Wake Forest 53
Against a team that came in near the top of the national rankings in rebounding percentage, Xavier won this game on the glass. The Muskies missed 40 (!) field goal attempts and an additional 3 free throws resulting in live-ball rebounds. From those 43 misses, the Muskies collected 18 offensive rebounds. That offensive rebounding percentage of 41.8% is impressive in and of itself; to do it against a team with such an impressive rebounding resume speaks to Xavier's efforts on the glass tonight.
Leading the charge on the glass was Matt Stainbrook, who was just too much for the Demon Deacons to handle tonight. He put up 21/10/2 with 2 steals and a block on 9-12/0-0/3-5 shooting. Five of his ten rebounds were on the offensive end, and he helped hold Wake's Devin Thomas to 9/4/1 on 2-8 shooting from the floor. It was all aboard the Stain Train for Xavier tonight.
His offense was absent without leave tonight, but it's worth noting that Isaiah Philmore was a complete maniac tonight. He went for 4/9/0 on 1-9/0-1/2-3 shooting, but had 5 offensive rebounds and left a significant amount of skin on the Cintas Center floor in the process. If he could have gotten a basket to fall, he would have had another game that Xavier fans would be hailing, but he set the tone of winning every 50-50 ball that carried Xavier through the game.
With 9:30 left in the first half, Codi Miller-McIntyre hit a three from the corner to put Wake up 24-22. Through the end of the half, Xavier forced eight turnovers and held Wake to 0-9/0-4/3-5 shooting. The Muskies combined that zipping up with a 20-point outburst of their own, taking the game from tight to a laugher in one decisive burst. The Musketeers' 15-point advantage would hold as they coasted (and sometimes sputtered) through the second half to an easy win.
Other than Stainbrook, nobody was really impressive for Xavier on offense. Semaj Christon had 12 points (all before the half) on 5-13/1-2/1-2 shooting and threw in 5 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks for good measure. After back-to-back games in single-digit scoring, Christon seemed poised for a big outburst tonight, but instead just cruised it home with the rest of the team after the interval.
James Farr overcame an uncharacteristically poor shooting night to get 13/7/0 on 6-12/1-5/0-0 shooting. He also added a steal and a block to his stat line. Farr hit his first three on a pick-and-pop from Dee Davis but then missed his next four, including a couple of pretty good looks. Good players have the occasional bad night, and Farr's ability to contribute in other ways helped him (and the Muskies) this evening.
Justin Martin was both of his selves tonight. Bad JMart scored 5 points on 2-9/1-5/0-1 shooting, including at least two shots that made first contact with a surface other than the rim after he released. Good JMart, on the other hand, stayed active on defense and added 8 boards, 1 very pretty assist, and only 1 turnover. If you've figured him out, please let me know. Better yet, use it as a doctoral case study for your psych PhD.
Odds and ends:
-Dee Davis labored to a 2-6/1-4/2-2 line, but he had 7/2/7 with a steal and was helping Xavier pick apart the Wake defense with his superbly accurate passing. Only a couple of dropped passes and some Wake fouls kept him from getting double-digit assists.
-Xavier shot 4-19 (21.1%) from beyond the arc tonight, with Myles Davis an unusually poor 0-2, Dee and JMart combining to go 2-9, and Isaiah Philmore even getting in on the act with 0-1. Fortunately, X didn't really need any help from deep to run away with this one.
-The Muskies had 17 assists on 26 made baskets tonight, which is a pretty nice ratio. They probably would have had more assists if they weren't getting so many of their points on stickbacks.
-Andre Washington had 5 blocks for Wake, including one comical sequence when he blocked Semaj and then stared him down despite being down 16 with 4 minutes left; Semaj just walked away.
That's about it from me. Brad will be on with his narrative recap, and the Sunday Conversation is already in the works as well. I'm celebrating Christmas with family as we speak, so my dad didn't text me his take since we were sharing a room. Warmest regards, all.