It's Monday again, which means it's once again time to check in on where Xavier is right now. This week was a little bit of up and a little bit of down. Xavier went on the road twice, which means that two losses was the logical expectation. Instead, Xavier went into Washington DC and won at a canter. The Hoyas never made a serious run after a first half in which Xavier held them to 16 points. After that, Xavier went to Seton Hall with, perhaps, raised expectations. Despite being tied at the under four media timeout, the Musketeers would go on to lose by eight. That leaves Xavier at 14-8 overall, 5-5 in the conference, and 19th in the KenPom standings.
1. Three point shooting has gone from bad to worse.
As reader abqxu has pointed out, Xavier is 11 for 64 from behind the arc over the last four games. That's not just bad, it's terrible. Yes, players need to take shots when they are wide open to keep the defense honest. However, 16 three point attempts per game when you are shooting 17% from behind the arc and dominating in the post is just bad offense. James Farr hasn't made a three since the 10th of January, but that hasn't kept him from continuing to lift. This isn't just about James though, Dee Davis hasn't made a three since the 17th of January and is four of his last 28. Xavier currently has Remy Abell shooting at 39% and Myles Davis at 40%. After that, a wasteland.
2. Defensive progress made, then lost.
Xavier held DePaul to 26 points and followed that up with a half in which they held Georgetown to 16. The Hoyas were held to .80 points per possession on their home floor by a Xavier defense playing with a renewed vigor. Against Seton Hall the Musketeers surrendered 1.05 points per possession in the first half. That's not awful and it had Xavier within one at the half. In the second half, though, the wheels came off and Xavier allowed the Pirates to score 1.3 points per possession and, eventually, overpower a game Musketeer offense. Allowing 52 points in a half is never ideal, and it represented a clear step back from the other three halves of the week.
3. Myles Davis is taking off.
Myles averaged 35.5 minutes per game this week, and in that time he put up a 16.5/4.5/6.5 line. In that time he also turned the ball over a grand total of three times and went 10-11 from the line. With Dee Davis needing a rest from the point guard spot (more on that in a bit), Myles has taken over some of the load and been dependable with the ball and from the line. Those are both vital in a guard in late game situations. Yes, the turnover against Seton Hall will stick in the memory, but Davis is growing into a very good guard.
4. Dee Davis is struggling mightily.
First off, Dee's assist rate of 33% is still 53rd in the nation and his steal rate of 3.1% is the highest of his career. That's the good news. The bad news is that Dee has made multiple field goals in only one of the last four games (three against DePaul), hasn't made multiple three pointers in a game since December 9th, is shooting a career worst from behind the arc, is putting up his lowest effective field goal percentage since his freshman year, and is taking 4.5% more shots and using 5% more possessions than he ever has. Dee is also playing a career high in minutes and drawing a career high in fouls. Those last two matter a lot, because Dee is beginning to look like a player who has simply given it everything he has and increasingly finding the tank empty. No one will ever question Dee's heart, but just maybe that heart has finally outlasted Dee's body.
5. Things are looking up.
For starters, Xavier won a road game! That's almost as shocking as not giving the ball to the best running back in football with the Super Bowl on the line. Right now the cold, unfeeling numbers of Ken Pomeroy's projection system see Xavier winning the next four games in a row. Those are Creighton (10-13, 1-9) at home, Providence (16-6, 6-3) at home, Marquette (10-11, 2-7) away, and St. John's (14-7, 3-5) at home. Whether that happens or not, it's a measure of Xavier's progress that unflinching mathematics now sees them as having the shot to break off four straight in conference.