Last night, Xavier played on the road. While that has recently become shorthand for saying "Xavier lost," the game itself hardly unfolded like a normal road loss. While the terrible first half remained intact from all the other road struggles, this time Xavier failed to make free throws, went 2-16 from behind the arc, and didn't get annihilated from behind the arc. A furious comeback late in the game tied things up just in time for overtime and a gutting loss. This was typical Musketeers road flailing, and things look just as grim going forward.
1. Xavier lost the game early...again
Adjustments in the second half are all well and good, but this game once again got away while Xavier spent valuable time trying to figure out basic basketball tenets like how to beat a zone. The Musketeers played man to man against the worst three point shooting team in the conference for half the game. In that half, they fell behind by 12 in a game that they eventually lost in overtime. You don't need to make halftime adjustments if you get the gameplan right in the first place. It was obvious coming in that the Friars couldn't shoot. Despite that, Xavier tried to play them straight up and dare Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton beat the vaunted Musketeers defense. They did. Xavier was 9-28 from the floor, 0-7 from deep, and looked utterly puzzled by a simple zone. Another road game, another early failure.
2. Dee Davis is regressing
Dee went for 4/2/4 on 1-4 shooting last night and he added three turnovers. Troublingly, Dee keeps making the same mistake of driving into the middle and having nothing to do with the ball once he gets there. Dee's three point shooting of 28% is the worst of his career, but he's still on pace to take about the same amount of attempts that he has the last two years. The last time Dee had a single game offensive rating over anything above average was January 7th against Seton Hall. The 76 ORtg he posted against Marquette was his worst of the season prior to last night's 67. With point guard so thin for the Musketeers that Myles Davis was pressed into service when Dee had four fouls last night, Dee can't afford to keeping getting worse.
And what on earth happened to Brandon Randolph?
3. A loss is a loss, and the committee is watching
You can dress it up all you like, but last night still counts as yet another road loss. Xavier will not get any sort of seeding boost (or even get in) unless they win the occasional road game. There is no column for storming comebacks that come up just a bit short. Nor is there a "losses that taught us a lot" column. Xavier is losing games on the road, and every one of those losses is another blow to NCAA hopes. Providence is a good team that may very well go dancing themselves, but the Musketeers are going to have to beat a team like that to get a road win. Xavier blew the chance to beat DePaul on the road, and no one is going to be impressed should they manage to beat Creighton in Omaha. At some point, the Musketeers have to win.