How did you feel in that first half? If you're like me, it probably wasn't good. Xavier's defense came out hitting on zero cylinders, allowing DePaul to shoot 19-30/11-19/1-2 (.633/.579/.500) in the first on their way to a 50-42 lead. A Jalen Reynolds technical foul after the half was over gave DePaul the FT to go up 51-42 before the clock even started.
From that point on, Xavier held DePaul to 9-30/2-13/5-9 (.300/.154/.556) and forced 9 turnovers on 35 possessions in the final 20 minutes. DePaul averaged .743 points per possession as Xavier's defense spurred their second-half renewal. Amazingly, Xavier's offensive production basically didn't waver, going from 1.313 to 1.382 points per possession. This rally was all about defense.
Beyond that, the story of the game was Myles Davis, who went bonkers to the tune of 25/8/0 on 8-14/1-6/8-10 shooting with two steals and just one turnover. His 14 in the first half helped keep Xavier in it, and he was 5-5 from the line in the second half to help salt the game away for Xavier. How about that work on the glass, too? Coach Mack went with four smaller players around Matt Stainbrook for a lot of the second half - in which Myles had 6 boards - and Myles's willingness to do the dirty work on missed shots helped keep that plan viable.
Trevon Bluiett broke out of his offensive funk with 21/4/3 on 8-10/1-3/4-7 shooting. He hit a couple of jumpers, but his high basketball IQ served him well today. DePaul was doubling Stainbrook intermittently, and Bluiett repeatedly ran to the spot abandoned by the doubling big man to position himself for an uncontested layup. It's a simple thing, but the ability to make intelligent cuts pays big dividends for the players who have it.
Speaking of Matt Stainbrook, DePaul had no answer for him today. He went for 17/7/6 on a cool 7-7/0-0/3-4 shooting and also threw in a block and a steal. As much trouble as he occasionally had closing out shooters in the first half, he was absolutely integral to Xavier's comeback in the second half. DePaul's defense had to move every time he had the ball, and it was opening up lanes for cutters, room for dribble penetration, and wide open looks for threes.
What was bad about Dee Davis today? He shot 3-7/0-1/2-5 and committed two fouls. Other than that, he had a quietly sensational game. His final line was 8/2/8 with 4 steals and zero turnovers despite playing 34 minutes. Both of his rebounds were on the offensive end. Aside from that shooting line, this was an absolutely vintage Dee Davis game, right down to drawing not one but two offensive fouls while defending much larger men on the post.
Team offense was exceptionally crisp as a whole today, averaging 1.35 points per possession. Xavier had only three players turn the ball over at all, totaling 5 TO between them. Their 31 made baskets came on 19 assists for a 61.2% assist rate. Three-point and free-throw shooting were bad, but if Xavier keeps moving and protecting the ball like they just did, they're going to be in a lot of games.
Odds and ends:
-James Farr played ten minutes and went for 0/1/0.
-Brandon Randolph played eight minutes and went for 0/1/0.
-JP Macura was 6-6 from the line; all other Muskies were 18-30.
-Xavier forced DePaul into turnovers on more than a quarter of their possessions in the second half.
-There were three lead changes in the game; once X took the lead, they held the game.
-"Is Dee injured?"
-"Sweet Music with the nice change of hands."
-"Wow, pass on the layup to shoot a 3."
-"Let me recap: we can't play man and we're lousy in a zone. Now what?"
-"Need to make free throws."
-"Remy for three! When did we get that guy?"
-"Why do we have to play Thursday night in Providence and at noon on Saturday at home?"
-"Blue is en fuego! Step back fadeaway three!"
-"Sweet Music is a player."
-"In the bonus with 12 to go. Should be a good thing."
-"Remy, even when he's not scoring, gives us energy."
That's it from me. Bryan will be on here this evening with the narrative recap, and we'll have the Sunday Conversation rolling right into coverage on Tuesday's Georgetown game. Get some rest, Xavier fans.