On a day where Xavier needed someone to show up to get a tough road win, almost nobody did. The Muskies were flat in the first half, fell behind big in the second, and then couldn't get over the hump on the way back into the game. You can only give up the big run so many times before you don't have an answer in you, and Xavier's penchant for falling behind big bit them in the haunches today. Xavier was down 38-37 with the ball at the 18:14 mark. They failed to score and subsequently allowed a 15-4 run over the next 4:42 that put Providence out of reach for good. On the road in conference play in the Big East, you can't switch off like that. X did, and that was the story of the game.
Justin Martin did his best to keep Xavier in it early, ending the game with 19/7/2 on 9-15/1-4/0-2 shooting. His talent for scoring was evident in the first half, but he was also hustling all over the court to make plays for Xavier. Something blinked out early in the second half. He score on the first two possessions of the half and then shot 1-2/0-1/0-2 for the rest of the game. When you have 17 points 21 minutes into a ball game and your team is struggling, you have to keep hunting shots. It's not that JMart went cold after that, it's that we never really saw him try to figure out if he was still hot or not. I don't get him.
Semaj ended the game with 18/4/2 and did it in reverse JMart order. Christon didn't shoot until there was 7:51 left in the first half and didn't make a field goal until there were over three minutes gone in the second. After starting the game 0-6/0-0/2-2, he went 5-9/0-0/6-7 from that point forward and almost dragged X back into the game. His last two shots were blocked by Carson Desrosiers - who was making significant contact with the body despite being clean on the ball - and I have to imagine Semaj is a little frustrated that he didn't begin clicking just a hair sooner.
Xavier's plan early on was clearly to feed the ball inside to Matt Stainbrook, but he really had trouble getting up through the gears today. I'd imagine the Friars' size bothered him to some extent, but he had some fairly direct looks at the basket that he usually converts fall off the rim for him today. He finished with 11/9/3 with 3 TO on 4-13/0-1/3-3 shooting today. I don't know why he shot a three. The game was once again confusingly called, and I think the physical abuse Stainbrook was victim of affected him today.
Other than that, there was not much going on for X. Philmore had 6/6/0 on 2-2/0-0/2-2 but was hampered by foul trouble. Jalen Reynolds was somehow not in foul trouble and he got 6/4/0 on 3-6/0-0/0-0 shooting. Myles Davis hit two big threes for the team but missed five others, and James Farr was 0-2 from behind the arc while picking up 4 fouls in 9 minutes.
Three team stats tell the story of a frustrating road loss. Providence blocked 10 of Xavier's shots. Xavier shot 3-17 from behind the arc while Providence was 8-20. Xavier had 12 assists on 28 made buckets while Providence had 17 assists on 26 made buckets. Xavier evened up their early rebounding issues, and the officiating was at times poor but never appeared stilted. Those three number illustrate how much trouble the Muskies had establishing a flow on offense, and it was that trouble that ended up costing them the game.
Odds and ends:
-Dee had 2/5/5 with no turnovers but only shot 1-5/1-3/0-0.
-Brandon Randolph had a couple of first-half minutes and then was never heard from again.
-Bryce Cotton is an exceptional basketball player.
-Xavier only had 6 turnovers, so that's something.
-"JMart is playing well of late. Makes you wonder about the past..."
-"We need Semaj and Stain to pick it up."
-"We need to get into transition and free some guys up."
-"Fortunate to only be down four at the half the way we're playing."
-"Phil has done nothing so far."
-"I'm afraid this one is over." Me: "You're always afraid it's over." Dad: "I'm bound to be right one of these times."
-"Our big guys are just really soft today."
-"We're starting to rebound but we still can't score."
-"Down 7 with less than 6 to go; they will not be able to do it this time."
-"Man, we just could not shoot at all today."
-"Just couldn't get it going today. The fact that Stain wasn't very good again today concerns me; I hope he's not getting tired."
That's it from me. Brad will be back later with his recap, and we'll try to discuss something else for the Sunday Conversation. Stay warm.