It's all about matchups
As much as we fret about Xavier's eventual seed in the NCAA tournament, this game shows how much the real issue is with matchups. Obviously the allure of a high seed is better odds of getting a good matchup, but if Xavier draws a team with a lot of athleticism or a big man who can shoot, they're going to have real trouble winning a game in the NCAA Tournament. The can that St. John's opened on Xavier after Obekpa came into the game illustrated this truth all too brutally.
Xavier has grown in toughness
The Muskies started the game on an 11-0 run, but St. John's brought in Obekpa and promptly reeled off a 30-9 stretch of their own that spanned the half. On a hostile floor and looking like they were fading from the game, Xavier promptly went on a 17-2 snap. Part of this is down to Larry Austin, Jr., who grabbed the ball and ran at the defense, putting St. John's on their heels for the first time in 20 minutes. The road has been unfriendly to Xavier, but they showed a comforting level of resilience tonight.
Execution is key
Xavier left some points on the line today, especially with both Dee and Matt missing front ends of 1-and-1s in the second half. That couples with the nearly two dozen turnovers the team had to turn in a lot of fairly empty possessions for Xavier. Those would have been nice to have back as the game was coming down to the wire; even a couple of baskets instead of turnovers would have made this a completely different game down the stretch.