What happened: Xavier 79 - Fordham 66
It's an axiom bordering on a cliche that anything can happen in any given night in conference play, and Xavier spent stretches of this game trying to demonstrate that exact point against Fordham. Despite being up 15 with under six minutes to play, the Muskies needed a late 10-3 run punctuated by a Landen Amos dunk to get to the somewhat flattering final margin. It wasn't always pretty and it was often frustrating, but Xavier did what they needed to do tonight to stay in the running for the tournament.
We usually start with a top scorer or high performer here, but Landen Amos is going to get some love above the proverbial fold tonight. We usually take the time to highlight his efforts on the defensive end - and he certainly did his share of that work again tonight - but Amos will remember this game for the monster dunk he threw down for his first collegiate field goal. Coach Mack said in the booth tonight that he didn't even know Amos' name until he walked on last year, but he has put himself on the map for Xavier fans this season. His 5/5/1 on 1-1/0-0/3-4 shooting in 15 minutes is a good line for anyone, regardless of his scholarship status.
Speaking of scholarships, Semaj earned his tonight, playing all but three minutes of the game. He found time to go for 19/2/5 with 2 steals and a block on 6-10/0-0/7-10 shooting. His line was marred somewhwat by his 4 turnovers, but all in all it was another good performance for Xavier's freshman star, who is really growing into his role as a leader on the floor for this team. Fordham coach Tom Pecora said after the game that Christon is a jump shot away from the league right now, and I'm not going to fight him on that point.
Xavier was 6-10 from deep on the night, and a large portion of the credit for that goes to Justin Martin. After a long slump, Martin is back to his early season form, tonight putting up 16/7/0 on 4-5/3-3/5-7 shooting with a steal and two blocks. More importantly, he is catching the ball ready to shoot and looking for chances to put it on the deck and attack. His shooting stroke from the line is looking good, too, and the importance of that can barely be overstated for this team.
Trav Taylor, Dee Davis, and Jeff Robinson all scored exactly ten points, as Xavier featured five players in double figures tonight. Taylor and JRob featured identical 4-9/0-0/2-3 shooting lines, but Taylor augments his with 9 boards and 2 assists, while Robinson picked up just 1 rebound and no dimes. Dee has 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and just one turnover on 2-5/1-2/5-6 shooting. After being limited by foul trouble in both halves, Davis helped Xavier hold on down the stretch by grabbing a couple of key loose balls and executing at the line.
Odds and ends:
-Brad Redford was back, kind of, getting 6 points on 2-5/2-5/0-0 shooting. Xavier doesn't need him to go 6-7 from behind the arc every night, but being a threat like he was tonight is a huge boost for this team's offense.
-Isaiah Philmore followed his breakout game against Duquesne with 3/4/0 on 0-3/0-0/3-4 shooting. Three of his rebounds were on the offensive end, though.
-X had 12 assists on 23 buckets and 13 turnovers. None of those numbers excite me.
-The Muskies somehow allowed Mandell Thomas to go for 23.
-Xavier only had 26 points in the paint, though a lot of that can be attributed to Fordham's zone defense more than Xavier's post scorers.
-Butler lost at home to Charlotte, dropping the Bulldogs into a four-team group of three-loss teams in the A-10. Only VCU and Saint Lou remain tied atop the league at the two-loss plateau.
Tweet of the night:
Finally— Landen Amos (@LA_2_) February 14, 2013
That's it from me. Dad couldn't see this one, so every text I got from him was just his complaints about Xavier's stupid TV contract. Stay tuned for Brad's narrative recap. After that, we'll have the preview for Xavier's road trip to UD. It's a 12 noon tip at Dayton.