In the preview, I identified three things - pull from deep, protect the basketball, and avoid the big run - as keys to the game for the Musketeers. Xavier did exactly none of those things, and this is what happened. X didn't look to score from deep early or very often, which is a shame, because they were 5-12 from beyond the arc and were getting good looks before Marquette knew they needed three. I had Marquette for 25 points off of the 19 Xavier turnovers, which killed the Muskies. And avoiding the big run? Xavier gave up a 15-2 run to go down 19-8 in the first half, a 10-4 run after cutting it to 42-37, and a 10-2 run after cutting it to 59-54. Every time they got close, Xavier simply wilted out of the game.
Xavier had something on the order of 61 possessions today, meaning they had 72 points on 42 possessions (1.71 PPP) when they avoided turning the ball over. That's a stunning number, but it makes sense when you look at the team's shooting line of .542/.417/.714 on the game. Xavier dominated in all facets of the game but two. They crushed the glass, posting an OReb% of 64%. They had 16 assists on 26 made buckets. Points off of turnovers and a completely inability to recognize and adjust to Marquette's three-point barrage doomed Xavier.
It's hard to write nice paragraphs about anyone right now, but I'm going to try.
To his credit, Good JMart showed up today. He played 38 minutes and put up a game line of 20/7/1 on 6-10/2-6/6-7 shooting. He did have 4 turnovers, but he was probably just trying to fit in with his teammates. Martin switched over to Jake Thomas and held him scoreless when assigned to him. He was apparently the only Muskie who realized that Thomas is only on the floor to do one thing and that you have to force him to catch the ball well behind the arc and then close out. In other words, JMart's awareness was why he got switched onto Thomas.
Matt Stainbrook scored almost at will, shooting 6-7/0-0/0-0 on his way to 12/5/1, though he also added 4 turnovers. Stainbrook was hounded by foul trouble all night, but he was certainly the victim of some partisan officiating in the paint. His fifth foul was especially comical, as both players involved turned questioningly to the official when they were surprised by the whistle. The big man was frustrated all night, but his effort didn't wane, and his rebounding numbers undersell the impact he was having making space for leapers.
Speaking of leapers, Jalen Reynolds was more than solid tonight and was almost a part of bringing Xavier all the way back. He may have been forced into the game by foul trouble, but his effort on the glass was sensational and his defense was remarkably clear of fouls. He played 14 minutes and went for 6/7/0 on 3-4/0-0/0-0 shooting, including a monster putback of a Dee Davis miss that cut the game that sparked a 7-0 to bring Xavier within touching distance late.
Myles Davis provided a spark off the bench, scoring 12 in 20 minutes on 4-6/2-4/2-3 shooting. He also added 3 boards and an assist with only one turnover. Dee Davis supplemented the family's output with 7/0/7 with a steal and 3 turnovers on 2-6/1-2/2-2 shooting. Dee had 2 fouls early in the game and struggled with foul trouble all night, and you have to wonder if things might have been a little different had he been out there to slow things down a couple of times in the first half. Finally, Semaj never was able to assert control over the game, going for 10/4/6 with 2 steals and 5 turnovers on 3-7/0-0/4-7.
Odds and ends:
-James Farr only had 2 minutes; I have no idea why.
-Philmore played 27 minutes and had 5/2/0 on 2-7/0-0/1-2 shooting; I have no idea why Farr had only 2 minutes.
-Jake Thomas is now 11-21 from behind the arc against Xavier and 38-107 against everyone else.
-Marquette was 9-18 from deep; we have a serious problem playing perimeter defense, and it has to be schematic at this point.
-What a frustrating loss.
My dad was at a wedding and was mercifully spared this today. We'll have the Sunday Conversation tomorrow (because tomorrow's Sunday) and all the news that is news for Xavier fans in the days and weeks ahead, including Brad's recap. Xavier back in action at Cintas against DePaul on Wednesday. After that game (assuming a win), X has to find 2 wins in 5 games that go @Georgetown, @St. John's, Creighton, @Seton Hall, and Villanova. It's going to be tough sledding.