Xavier did the definition of just enough to win this game, but that's all they needed. The most important call of the game was made by Coach Mack with Xavier down 21-16 and 6:56 left in the first half. Semaj had just picked up his second foul, and common basketball procedure dictated that he would get 6:56 of rest, plus half time, to protect him from getting a third foul. Instead, Coach Mack kept running him out there, and Xavier finished the half on a 15-6 that included six points and an assist from Semaj to go into the half up 31-29. All credit to Semaj for performing, but Coach Mack stuck his neck out by choosing to keep Semaj in the game.
Semaj was not at his best today - he had 5 of Xavier's 10 turnovers - but he was definitely the live wire that kept the team going through the game. He ended up with 18/1/5 on 6-13/1-2/5-8 shooting and was getting up and down the court all game. Christon's ability to get the ball where it needed to go on offense was impressive, and he never tried to take over the game just with scoring. Two of his turnovers came on charge calls - neither of which was a very good one; his passing game was on point tonight.
The big story - which I have buried here in the third paragraph, just like they taught me not to do in my journalism classes - was Matt Stainbrook. Stainbrook was out because of his knee injury as of about noon today, but he mustered up the requisite fortitude to suit up and grab some minutes. He went for 8/0/1 on 2-3/0-0/4-5 shooting, but that barely scratches the surface of his contributions. His first offensive touch was his assist, as he kicked out to an open Dee Davis for three. Xavier was reeling a bit early, and Stainbrook helped steady the ship until the Muskies could get up through the gears. In the biggest game of the year, Xavier's biggest player came up massive for them.
Despite all those great stories, it was actually Justin Martin - known as "The Imp" around these parts - who led the way in scoring with 19/4/0 with 0 turnovers on 5-10/3-6/6-6 shooting. I've never seen a more placid human being in my whole life, but I guess JMart doesn't flex 'em because he knows he's got 'em. He is developing into the languid scorer that Xavier fans envisioned when he signed, and his length and shooting ability made him difficult to guard tonight. If he continues to show up like this, Xavier is going to be a tough out the rest of the way.
Jalen Reynolds got the start tonight in Stainbrook's place and went for 6/3/0 with 2 blocks and a pair of massive dunks. He also forced Davante Gardner to catch the ball well outside of the lane, which in turn made it difficult for Marquette's big man to get easy baskets. Isaiah Philmore showed up to the tune of 10/6/2 on 4-7/0-1/2-4 shooting, and he was active on the offensive end to the extent that his movement was making buckets for him and his teammates. Finally, your friend and mine Dee Davis had 7/1/3 with FIVE STEALS and 0 turnovers. What a dude that Dee Davis is.
Odds and ends:
-Jake Thomas was 1-2 from behind the arc for Marquette.
-Xavier had only 10 turnovers while forcing 15.
-Marquette had 6 offensive boards but only 2 second-chance points.
-The Muskies had 11 assists on 23 made baskets, which is not good.
-"We are not very good in a zone."
-"We are soft inside on D."
-"Good to see Stainbrook out there."
-"Dee looks composed."
-"Have to stop Burton."
-"I believe Reynolds was trying to send a sublte message to their large man there."
-"Two on Semaj is bad news."
-"JMart is playing well, staying involved."
-At the under-4: "I think I would take Semaj out at this point. Of course, I wouldn't have sent him back in so soon. Gutsy."
-"Makes the shot. Mack is a genius."
-"Bad, bad call on Semaj."
-"Gardner apparently doesn't know Staintrain only goes left. How does that happen?"
-"When JMart gets settled, he can shoot."
-"Having to play Myles with Semaj on the bench is killing us."
-"Need to be active to be successful in the zone."
-"I'm glad this is so relaxing; helps relieve my stress."
-"Staintrain was the difference. Not pretty, but I'll take it."
That's it from me. Bryan picked up the Bubble Watch tomorrow and Brad will be on a little later in the day with the preview of tomorrow's game against Creighton. Get some rest, Muskie fans. I will see you tomorrow night.
Tweet of the Game:
@BannersParkway no mention of the newest 1,000 point club member in the breakdown?— Drew (@DruciferDecrees) March 14, 2014
You wanted it Drew, and you made it happen. Semaj Christon joined Byron Larkin as the only Musketeers to make the 1,000 point club in their sophomore season.