If you were wondering whether or not Xavier can win with only Semaj and Stainbrook performing, the answer is no. Once again, a team playing a zone confounded Xavier and the Muskies could never adjust. Two stats tell the story. One is the fact that Xavier had 13 turnovers - 9 of which were Seton Hall steals - and Seton Hall scored 21 points off of them. The other is Xavier's shooting line of 21-47/2-14/16-28. Missing 12 free throws and shooting 14.3% from behind the arc isn't going to get it done against just about anyone. The A-10 had teams against whom you could play poorly and still win; Xavier jumped to the Big East wanting better competition, but with that comes the requirement of playing better. They didn't today.
We'll get to Semaj and Stainbrook in a minute, but first let's round up the players who are usually supporting the Muskies' efforts.
Dee Davis was not good today. Teams with big, physical guards give him trouble, and Seton Hall's trapping zone had his number all game. Dee played 35 minutes and compiled a line of 3/3/6 on 1-6/0-4/1-2 shooting. That's not too awful in and of itself, but he also had 5 turnovers. The Pirates were trapping in the full and half court defenses, and Xavier desperately needed someone to get the ball across and get them into the offense. That never really developed for Dee.
Justin Martin had been pretty sensational in Big East play, but he was invisible today. Martin had a listless 22 minutes and put up 5/2/0 on 2-5/0-2/1-2 shooting. When Martin's going badly, it's not so much that he does the wrong things as he does no things at all. If you're struggling at home, it would be nice to see a player older than most seniors wanting to take charge of the game. Instead... nothing. Vintage JMart.
The rest of the role players were similarly limited. Philmore had 8/2/0 on 3-4/0-0/2-3, but he was limited to 16 minutes by foul trouble. James Farr played 16 minutes and didn't score. Erik Stenger played 13 minutes and didn't score; he and Farr combined to shoot 0-2/0-1/0-4. Myles Davis had 7 points but shot 2-9/2-7/1-2 to get there. Brandon Randolph had 9 minutes and was a steal away from one of the longest trillions I have ever seen.
Back to the stars: Stainbrook was very good. He had a little trouble early on when he was trying to put the ball on the floor, but he adjusted brilliantly. He ended the game with 16/14/3 with a steal, 2 blocks, and only 1 turnover in 33 minutes of play. His shooting line was 5-7/0-0/6-6; he even scored with his right hand. The only way Seton Hall could stop him was to make sure he didn't get the ball. Unfortunately, they excelled at doing just that. On the other end, he helped hold Gene Teague to just 9/3/0; Stainbrook was probably Xavier's best player today.
Semaj was only a step behind him, though. In the brief stretches where X looked alive in the second half, it was because of Christon. He ended the game with 21/3/6 on 8-14/0-0/5-9 shooting. Two-thirds of Xavier's baskets on the evening were either scored or assisted by Semaj; it's not exaggerating to say the he was almost literally the only one making things happen for stretches. Four fouls kept him on the bench for a critical stretch of the game late, and Seton Hall went on a 9-4 run during that time. Xavier may have been able to stay in the game if Semaj hadn't had to spend that time on the bench, but a good result would have barely disguised how bad the Muskies' process was today.
Odds and ends:
-The fact that Seton Hall hit 8 threes buried Xavier today, and the fact that they got 22 attempts doesn't bode well for Monday's game at Villanova.
-Xavier had 15 assists on 21 made buckets, which is good.
-Xavier dominated on the glass at both ends, holding Seton Hall to 6 offensive board while grabbing 12 of their own despite both teams missing the same number of shots.
-To do the math for you, Semaj and Stainbrook combined for 37 in 66 minutes, and the rest of the team combined for 23 in 134 minutes.
-"Need Train to get back on track; JMart needs to play well; Semaj has to look for his shot earlier."
-"Not a good start."
-"Phil is faking every time. Needs to just go up."
-"Stain Train looking decent so far."
-"Davis needs to know you attack the zone from the top, not the side."
-"If we keep up scoring one point a minute, we won't win."
-"We just look flat."
-"We are not posting high; that is why Dee is getting trapped on the wing."
-"Still no one consistently at the high post. We have to make that adjustment."
-"I have a bad feeling about this game."
-"Officiating is sooooooooooo inconsistent."
-"Red just made a half-court shot during the break!!!!"
-"Phil is doing better at the high post than Stain. At least he'll shoot of the pick."
-"We can't win an FT contest."
-"We are making them look good. Our defense is a step slow again today. They have to quit going to class and rest up."
-"Can't make FT, can't play in the half court."
-"We just didn't look good today - don't know what exactly it is. Too many turnovers and dull, unispired play."
-"The best part of that game was having Pete call it."
That's it for me, mercifully. No recap of today's game from Brad, but we'll have the Sunday Conversation tomorrow and the 'Nova preview on Monday.