It once again came down to turning up the defensive effort for Xavier. With 11:49 left in the game, Brandon Mobley had just hit a three to put Seton Hall up 47-45. The game was hanging in the balance, and Xavier had turned a five-point halftime lead into a two-point deficit. From that point forward, Xavier held Seton Hall to 12 points on 5-15/3-9/1-2 shooting with 5 turnovers. Seton Hall had 18 possessions in the last 11:49 and managed to score on 6 of them. In the meantime, Xavier's offense poured in 24 points and turned a nail-biter into an 11-point home win.
Sterling Gibbs is usually the straw that stirs the drink for Seton Hall, but Remy Abell was all over him defensively all night and held him to 8 points on 3-11/2-8/0-0 shooting. Abell wasn't his usual efficient self on offense - he had 5/1/1 on 2-5/1-3/0-0 - but he made life difficult for the Pirates' star and let his teammates pick up the scoring slack.
Dee Davis came to play in a big way, especially in the first half. With Matt Stainbrook struggling to get meaningful opportunities, Davis led the team in points and assists en route to 14/3/6 on 6-11/0-2/2-2 shooting with 2 steals and 2 turnovers. This game was as close to a must-win as a game this early in the conference season can be, and it looked like it was slipping away from Xavier at different points in both halves. Dee was a steady hand on the controls and helped guide X to the win.
What do you do with James Farr? On the one hand, he scored 8 points on 4-6/0-0/0-0 shooting. On the other hand, he got 0 rebounds and only 1 assist and did not make any impact on the game after his layup with 17:44 remaining. It doesn't appear that he's in Coach Mack's doghouse necessarily, but it's hard to figure why he went from effective to not featuring from there on out. Whatever the reason, it's nice to see him back in the scoring column on a regular basis.
Speaking of Farr, Xavier outscored Seton Hall 40-28. In addition to Farr's contribution, Matt Stainbrook had 8/9/2 on 2-4/0-0/4-4 shooting, adding a steal and a block. Jalen Reynolds threw in 6/7/0, and Trevon Bluiett had 13/7/2. With Bluiett able to score from anywhere and chipping in on the glass, Xavier has a stable of big men that can make life miserable for opposing forwards in a variety of ways. Even with Stainbrook struggling to find his form, he's scoring efficiently and Xavier is dominating the painted area against most opponents.
Odds and ends:
-The team was a miserable 3-15 from deep on the night.
-Brandon Randolph had 3 points on 1-1/1-1/0-0 shooting; all he does it hit big threes.
-X had 16 assists on 26 made baskets.
-Seton Hall took 26 of their 56 shots from deep, but only connected on 7 of those.
-"I have a bad feeling about this game... the Hall is pretty good."
-"Dee is getting worked."
-"JP just aired a three..."
-"I lost the recording! I paused it instead of hitting record and now it's halftime... I lost like 12 minutes."
-"One good thing: Pete is on the halftime show."
-"They need to quit the hedge; Farr ended up on a guard."
-"We are flat to start the second - stunner."
-"Stain Train has been very pedestrian these past few games."
-"Man this is getting painful to watch."
-"Sweet Music with the back screen and Reynolds dunks, but we can't play D."
-"1-13 from 3 at home! Unreal."
-"Blue has been playing the last 2 minutes. His mom and dad were both Marines; fun fact."
-"Wow, that was tough. We looked much better the last 10 minutes, but we have to solve the after the half doldrums."