What happened: Xavier 86 - Marquette 79
This one was (almost) all about Semaj. At the half, he had 17/1/0 on 5-6/1-1/6-6 shooting. After the break, he came out in distribution mode, but it looked like the Muskies were cruising to victory, so I was more bemused than anything. When Marquette continued to creep back into it and eventually tie it up, I was openly begging Semaj to take over. He responded, and in a way the people who witnessed it are going to remember for a while. He buried not one but two massive threes for Xavier, putting together a second-half shooting line of 3-4/2-2/3-4 on his way to 28/3/2 with a steal and just one turnover on 8-10/3-3/9-10 shooting. He isn't the first guy you think of when you want a big three for X, but sometimes you just let your best player do his thing. Semaj was Semagical tonight.
Justin Martin had perhaps the most uninspiring 15/8/0 with 1 steal and 3 TO I've ever witnessed, but that's kind of what he does. Maybe I'm just jaded, but every time he and the ball come together, my stomach tightens a little. Sometimes he does crap like lob the ball to Todd Mayo for a layup to bring Marquette within two at the 9:48 mark. Other times, he buries a three to break a 62-62 tie and give Xavier the lead they would carry through the final horn. Maybe I'm unfairly maligning the dude, because that stat line on 5-9/1-3/4-4 shooting says JMart. Peace of mind is not something he's going to ever give the average Xavier fan, so I guess good performances just need enjoyed for what they are.
Xavier's bench got back into the act today, primarily in the form of James Farr. After a performance not up to his new standard, the young man came to play today. He had 10/4/1 on 4-4/1-1/1-2 shooting in just 12 minutes of playing time. Only foul trouble and possibly his still-questionable defensive acumen limited the damage he could do to Marquette, but he siezed his chances and did work. His massive tomahawk jam of a miss in the first half is going to show up on highlight reels until that's no longer a thing people do.
I compared Isaiah Philmore to a 73-year-old via Twitter during the game, but it was in the most flattering way possible. Philmore is not notable for his raw athletic ability, but he plays within his skill set brilliantly. His shot looks like the average adult could block it flat-footed, but he consistently gets opponents off the ground with headfakes, and he gets the ball onto the glass with sneaky movement and subtle adjustments. It's fun to watch a guy with a great understanding of his own game, and Philmore rode that to 9/2/0 on 3-4/0-0/3-4 tonight.
The Stain Train was momentarily derailed (I have a communication degree) by foul trouble, but he recovered from a scoreless first to put up 7/8/3 with a block on the game in just 22 minutes. Xavier was able to get points off of defense in the first half, but Marquette ruined a lot of fastbreaks by making buckets in the second. When Xavier has to play in the half court, Stainbrook's ability to run the offense through the high or low post becomes vital for the team's scoring chances. His two second half assists came in the vital stretch beginning around the eight-minute mark in which Xavier was grabbing the momentum back.
Odds and ends:
-Jalen Reynolds played 13 minutes and had 2/5/0. He only picked up one foul, but it was a technical for blocking a shot taken after the whistle and then telling the shooter all about it. Dude is committed to getting his fouls in.
-Brandon Randolph played ten minutes and took two shots, both ill-advised. Not his best showing.
-Myles Davis has missed ten straight three-point attempts.
-Marquette was averaging just over 4 made threes per game and shooting 30.5% from deep on the year coming in; the hit 11 and shot 40.7% tonight.
-"Was that Jalen with a T?"
-"Wow, in the bonus with 12:43 to go."
-"These guys only scored 35 on OSU? We're making them look good."
-"Farr with a MONSTER jam."
-"You can't foul with 1 second left on the shot clock!"
-"We have got to tighten the D."
-"Good Jmart hits. Great position on his part. Heady player."
-"Farr is playing now... except for that bad foul."
-"Now Butler lost."
-"Stenger had great position. Don't need to jump when you box out like that."
-"Thomas Brenneman is one of the announcers and he does not have it tonight."
-"Cheap call-he travelled first. What does Byron think?" [ed. note: Byron thought it was a travel and a double-dribble.]
-"Wow, Stain got sacked and no call."
-"We are letting them in because we have lost focus. Get it together."
-"Why is JMart dribbling so much? That's a TO waiting to happen."
-"Who was that last year in Farr's body? Doesn't even seem like the same dude."
-"We need [Semaj] to step up; he has been something else tonight."
-"I'll give Dee credit, he can shoot free throws."
-"Wow, that is an extremely bad call on JMart."
-"Stainbrook just rode that dude like a rented mule and we get the ball. Makeup no-call."
-"Good one to win. Would have been an awful one to lose."
My alarm goes off at five. Brad will probably write something tomorrow, and stuff.