What happened: Xavier 62 - Marquette 58
Xavier dug an enormous hole with poor play in the first half, but the Muskies did what they needed to do to get back into the game and ultimately win it. After the half, Xavier shot 13-25/8-16/6-10 and only turned the ball over 4 times after a dozen in the first half. X averaged 1.25 points per possession in the second half and held Marquette to .844. Xavier scored 11 points off of the 11 turnovers they forced in the second half, and that made the difference down the stretch.
One of the best ways to get the most out of your team is to have your best players on the floor for as long as possible. Many teams do that by starting their best five, but the Muskies haven't done that the last couple of games. Remy Abell came off the bench again today, and he was the best player on the floor. He went for 15/1/0 on 5-10/5-9/0-0 shooting. In his 20 minutes in the second half, he hit 4 threes and almost single-handedly dragged Xavier back into a game they were apparently intent on giving away.
His partner in not crime was Myles Davis. Myles was 0-3/0-3/0-1 in the first half (though he did have two assists) but he shot 4-6/3-4/3-3 for all 14 of his points in the second half. He finished the game with 14/0/3; you can do the math for yourself on the shooting line. He's still not what you would confuse with a valuable player on the defensive end, but he makes up for it with his shooting when he's locked in.
Jalen Reynolds and James Farr combined for 8/15/1 on 4-7/0-1/0-2 shooting. Coach Mack explained postgame that Xavier needed four quicker players on the court to speard Marquette's zone, so he didn't have two big men together too often. Reynolds and Farr had 36 minutes between them and helped Xavier hold their advantage on the board and keep the pressure on Marquette's shot making.
Matt Stainbrook didn't get a whole lot of touches in positions to score, but he was effective in collapsing the defense from the post and kicking to open shooters and cutters. He didn't have an assist in the first half since shooters weren't making shots, but he rallied for 8/4/4 on 3-6/0-0/2-2 shooting. He didn't have any blocks, but he held Marquette's Luke Fischer to 7/5/1 and without a made basket in the last half hour of the game.
Marquette's leading scorer is guard Matt Carlino. I don't know how much of it can be directly attributed to Remy Abell's exile to the bench, but he went off for 27/2/0 on 8-15/6-9/5-5 shooting and almost did enough to keep the Golden Eagles on top as Xavier surged in the second half. The Musketeers did force him into 5 turnovers though, and his final shot attempt was a wild stab at tying the game with a deep three in a crowd.
I could use some better decisions out of Dee Davis. Coach Mack said Dee's ability to actually recognize what defense Marquette was playing and direct traffic accordingly. Dee did have 5 assists in the second half, but he still shot 2-7/1-5/0-0 and his full game line of 7/2/6 with 5 turnovers on 3-9/1-6/0-0 shooting doesn't flatter him. Sometimes you need to realize you don't have it and move the ball to some other guys. Dee did have 3 steals and draw two charges, but his play in the first half was a big reason this game was tight down the stretch.
Odds and ends:
-JP Macura started but only played 9 minutes; he had 3 points on 1-2/1-2/0-0 shooting.
-Trevon Bluiett shot 2-6/0-3/3-6 on his way to 7/6/2.
-Brandon Randolph picked up a four minute trillion.
-Xavier turned the ball over on 25.4% of their possessions today, which is horrible.
-"They do have practice, right? Why do we look so lost on offense?"
-"Again Myles drops to double and his man drills a 3. Let Stain Train handle that!"
-"We would have to improve to be awful. 10 shots, 7 turnovers."
-"Remy must have just quit going to practice."
-"That was pathetic - the whole first half."
-"Unreal, why do we keep launching?"
-"Wow, that Remy guy is pretty good. Maybe we should play him."
-"Your usual defense [of Dee], while loyal, has been unmerited today."
-"3/4 of the game and we are still lost against the zone. That is on the coach."
-"Why is Dee anywhere but glued to [Carlino]?"
-"That was embarrassing. They should not be praised for coming back - they should be practicing against a zone."
My dad's a real barrel of laughs, isn't he? Anywho, that's it from me. We'll have the Sunday Conversation tomorrow, then roll it right back into next week's coverage starting Monday. Enjoy your Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Xavier fans.