Wow. With a chance to make a couple of statements at once in taking down an old rival and putting a final nail in the Thanksgiving Curse, Xavier flat-out opened up a can on Dayton this afternoon. Xavier dominated in every phase of the game, flashed depth when confronted with the Ref Show, and overcame a deeply partisan crowd to go home with the AdvoCare Invitational trophy.
In our preview, we identified the freebie war - i.e., getting "free" possessions with offensive rebounding and a positive turnover margin - as a place Xavier could win this game. It came to fruition at game time, with Xavier scoring 27 points off of 22 forced turnovers and getting 17 second-chance points from 13 offensive rebounds. On the other side, Xavier gave up 4 points off of turnovers and 2 second-chance points to Dayton. It was freebie domination.
Xavier's freshman point guard Edmond Sumner was the first among a solid group of scorers for Xavier today, putting up 14/3/3 on 5-8/2-3/2-3 shooting with 3 turnovers. He got caught in some foul trouble that slowed him down in the second half, but he had his full arsenal of skills on display in the first, burying a couple of big-time threes, getting into the defense on the dribble, and keeping the ball moving on the offensive end. X got a good one with Ed.
If Sumner is emblematic of how Xavier basketball keeps pushing forward, Myles Davis is a throwback for the Muskies. No doubt he is a talented player in his own right, but all he does is whatever the team needs. Need some buckets? How about 5-8/2-4/0-0 for 12 points? Need someone to prod the paint and poke holes in the half court defense? Myles did that for 3 assists today. He grabbed 6 boards. He spent the last 8 minutes or so bringing the ball up against pressure. If Coach Mack asked him to jump center, I'll be he would.
The Musketeers' big men could have been a dominant force today, but they were consistently in foul trouble from the word go. Despite that, Jalen had 11/5/1 in just 15 minutes and James Farr contributed 8/7/0 with 3 blocks in 17 minutes. The less said about the officiating the better, but if they are going to continue to call it like they are, it's going to behoove teams to be deep in the paint. There aren't a lot of schools that can match the production of Jalmes Farrnolds in the middle of the floor.
Trevon was quiet tonight for a guy who tied for the team lead in scoring, shooting 5-11/2-7/0-4 on his way to 12/5/2. He was joined in being uncharacteristically poor from the line by JP, who shot 3-6/1-3/4-7 and compiled 11/1/1 while renewing his habit of turning opponents into friends wherever he goes. I guess if there's anything that chaps me about this game, it's that we were bad from the line and left a chance to hang a hundred on Dayton out there.
The last of Xavier's 6 double-digit scorers was Remy Abell, who had 11/2/2. Nothing about his stat line jumps out at you except for the fact that we don't have to draw up plays for him and he went for a silent 4-8/1-2/2-2 shooting performance. He's a huge asset for this team, and I think we may not realize exactly how much he'll be missed when he's gone.
With 18:33 remaining in the game, Scoochie Smith got into the middle and made a layup to cut Xavier's lead to 47-39, prompting Dick Vitale to announce that he didn't think Xavier could put Dayton away. Over the next 6:23, Dayton's offense shot 0-7/0-4/0-0 and committed 5 turnovers while Xavier ripped off a 21-0 run to turn the rest of the game into a coronation. When your defense can completely put the brakes on an opposing attack, you always have the chance to zip someone up. When your offense can reel off 21 points in 6:23 to go along with that, you may have a special team on your hands. I think that might be what we're witnessing with this 2015-2016 Xavier squad. Don't take it from me though...
Way too early 2 say but from what I just watched this could be the best Xavier team ever. That's heavy but geez louise that was impressive.— Pat Kelsey (@patkelsey) November 30, 2015