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Xavier 73-77 UTEP: Recap

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Things didn't go very well for Xavier today, but having your worst offensive game of the year will do that to you.

Myles Davis returned, and today's loss wasn't his fault.
Myles Davis returned, and today's loss wasn't his fault.
Gary A.Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

If you wondered what would happen when Xavier failed to simply offensively overpower an opponent, you don't have to anymore. Xavier played their worst offensive game of the year (it was still above the national average) and combined that with their second worst defensive game. That's not a recipe for any team to win a game, and it wasn't for Xavier today.

Also not in Xavier's favor today was an officiating performance that could charitably be described as uneven. Several times calls that were demonstrably and clearly wrong went against X. Whether those changed the course of the game or not isn't easy to determine, but it didn't help. There are few things that are as annoying as officials that fail to do their job, and it was easy to determine that made watching the game considerably less enjoyable. It's hard to conceive of another job where it is possible to be consistently wrong and suffer no repercussions.

That's not to say that Xavier got run off the court today, because they didn't. The game was never anything more than a seven point affair, and the Musketeers actually led by five at the half. In that first half Xavier shot 50% from the floor, 5-12 from behind the arc, and scored 38 points. In the second half, things went downhill. In that half Xavier shot only 42.4% from the floor and allowed UTEP to knock in 54% of their shots. That's how you swing a five point lead into a four point deficit.

Another negative for Xavier was getting completely obliterated on the glass. The Musketeers allowed the Miners a 27.3% offensive rebounding rate, an 81.6% defensive rebounding rate, and were outrebounded 40-31 on the game. That's not the norm for this team, and it also came back to bite them. UTEP ran up 12 second chance, more than enough to make up the difference in the score.

There's a variety of ways to lose a game and, short of turnovers, Xavier delved into all of them. They shot free throws poorly (60%), they allowed 20 three point attempts, they were beaten in the paint, the gave up two separate 15-5 runs, they sent their opponent to the line (with some help), they got 14 and 19 minutes from a pair of starters, the lost their best player to fouling out, they suffered through the first bad shooting (3-9) day of Trevon Bluiett's career. Xavier may have done a few things well, but they slid into the miasma of the things that went poorly.