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Xavier v. Alabama: Three Things We Learned

It didn't start out looking good, but Xavier turned it on early and late and got back on the winning track at home.

Can this guy be guarded? No.
Can this guy be guarded? No.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The officials were determined to make themselves the story tonight, but I'm not going to give them the satisfaction in this space. Instead, lets focus on what happened on the floor among the guys who weren't getting paid.

Apparently we're the kind of team that forces turnovers now

Against an Alabama team that came into the game in the top 50 in the nation in turnover percentage, Xavier forced 10 turnovers in the first half on the way to 17 in the game. Normally a strictly man-to-man coach, Mack flashed a 2-3 in the half court and a 1-2-1-1 full-court trap after some made baskets. If you missed watching James Posey at the top of the old X-press, I'm sure you enjoyed Jalen Reynolds at the top of Coach Mack's full-court defense. That's a trap that is going to make life difficult for some teams going forward.

This team has strength in depth

We kind of already knew this, but it was tested by foul trouble tonight. Sean O'Mara came on and had 4 and 2 in the first half while Xavier's bigs were in foul trouble. JP Macura stepped into Trevon Bluiett's scoring shoes while Bluiett sat the bench with foul trouble, then just kept scoring. Myles Davis made it rain, and Larry Austin, Jr. saw the floor for the first time since Murray State. There's a reason the starters start, but the bench guys more than hold their own when forced to stand in the gap.

Three-point defense will still be an issue

Alabama's inability to make them go in while the game was still in doubt disguises the fact, but Xavier again wasn't good at checking the perimeter. It's a lot easier for a defense to control the amount of three-point attempts than it is the success of them; as long as Xavier is letting teams get so many shots up from behind the arc, some teams are are going to have the personnel to make it hurt for Xavier.