In the end, Xavier looked like what we were worried they would be from the start. Too dependent on Semaj Christon, X simply didn't have the answer when he misfired at the worst time. With all the fretting about if Semaj was going to jump to the NBA after this season, TJ Warren showed Xavier fans what a player actually prepared to do just that looks like. Despite the best efforts of Justin Martin on defense, Warren was able to get out in transition and get his. With the array of moves Warren has, it was only a matter of time until he got his, and he did. It was too much for the Musketeers to handle.
Semaj had trouble all night, finishing with 14/2/4 on 6-11/1-2/1-2 shooting. Nothing about that line screams trouble, but he also had 7 turnovers in a game where Xavier's inability to possess the ball was their Achilles' heel all night. A couple of those came of questionable officiating decisions, but many were just poor ball security. Semaj didn't even look like he was trying to do too much; the simple things just eluded him tonight.
Dee Davis was less bad without being more good, going 5/3/2 with 2 TO on 1-4/1-3/2-2 shooting. The book on the Muskies late in the year seemed to be clog the middle of the floor and dare them to beat you from outside. When Dee isn't shooting well and often, which he wasn't tonight, threats in that department are frighteningly thin for this team. Were frighteningly thin. It hurts to represent this year's squad in the past tense, but there it is. Anyway, Dee's season ended with his fifth foul as the game drifted away from Xavier.
For all the concern about Matt Stainbrook, he was sensational tonight. He went for 19/9/0 on 9-15/0-0/1-4 shooting despite being bodied quite liberally by BeeJay Anya and Jordan Vandenberg. Stainbrook put forth a man's effort in the paint tonight, as he has all year. It's a shame that he's only here for one more season, but Coach Mack and his staff unearthed a good on in the man they call the Stain Train.
Good JMart picked a rotten time to go AWOL. Martin defended TJ Warren reasonably well in the half court, but his own 3-12/0-6/2-2 shooting line on the way to 8/4/1 was not in any way what X needed out of him. To his credit, he threw his body around the whole time he was out there, tracking down loose balls and challenging for boards well after the outcome was a foregone conclusion. His emergence this season gave Xavier fans a lot to hope on for his senior year.
Isaiah Philmore's college career ended earlier than we would have liked, but he went out with 11/4/0 on 4-6/0-0/3-4 shooting. Typical of his tenure at Xavier, half of his boards came on the offensive end and he was instrumental in keeping a handful of other loose balls alive for Xavier. He had a little trouble checking the more athletic big men of NC State on the offensive glass, but this was not a performance that he should go away feeling bad about.
The bench, which had been so stout for Xavier in the early portions of the year, was nearly anonymous. Brandon Randolph and James Farr played without accumulating any stats. Jalen Reynolds did grab 7 boards, but he also had 4 fouls and only two points. Myles Davis ended the season in a shooting slump of biblical scope, missing all three of his three-point attempts on the night. If the starters felt unsupported by their mates, they had some right to that notion.
And that's where it ends. The season sputters to a halt and the curtain drops for another eight months or so. If this feels like a disappointment, it's only because this team worked so hard to raise your expectations over the course of the year. As time goes by and perspective is gained, I think this year will end up feeling like a larger step in the right direction than we anticipated back in November.
Over the next couple of weeks, we'll autopsy the season, say farewell to the departing seniors, and look ahead to next year. We'll also have coverage of the ongoing NCAA tournament and any other news as it breaks. Farther along, we'll keep breaking down the recruiting class, sort out the roster, and cover Coach Mack's continued efforts to bring in the next generation of Muskies. As always, it has been a pleasure covering the action for you all this year, and we look forward to great things to come.