What happened: St. John's 58 - Xavier 57
This game was lost in poor execution for Xavier. The Musketeers score 11 points in the first 3:45 and then 9 in the next 16:15. That scoring drought was courtesy of a staggering 15 turnovers by X in the first half, which led to way too many easy transition opportunities for a St. John's team that feasts on the run. Xavier tightened it up in the second half, turning the ball over just 5 times, but the previous points didn't come off the board because Xavier figured out what was causing them, and that ended up being the difference in the game.
His line doesn't show it, but Trevon Bluiett was the attacking hub for Xavier tonight. When X was going well, Trevon was standing at the free throw line to unsettle the St. John's zone, and he was attacking enough to get to the line 10 times in a game that was loosely officiated (to say the least). Bluiett ended up with 17/6/2 on 4-13/1-2/8-10 shooting. That rough mark from the field is partly because he was going at the rim against a tough shot-blocker, but the Muskies needed someone to attack the defense and Bluiett did just that.
Jalen Reynolds was Jalen Reynolds all night. He played hard and went for 9/7/0 on 4-7/0-0/1-1 shooting, but he also limited his own effectiveness with foul trouble. He is Xavier's most athletic and active big man and he can be effective in games that give Matt Stainbrook trouble, but he has to do better at keeping from picking up silly fouls that send him to the bench. Until Coach Mack can sub his strategically rather than for foul-related reasons, he's going to be in his own way.
Dee had trouble with fouls, turnovers, and being the victim of physical play; Larry Austin, Jr. was magical in getting 5 minutes off the pine to spell him. Austin came in early in the 17-2 run that got Xavier back into the game and he really changed the dynamic of play. When Xavier was looking passive and timid, Austin simply grabbed the ball and ran at the defense. The other nine guys on the floor were surprised, but his shift jolted Xavier into life and brought the game back into a competitive status. Good on you, Larry Austin, Jr.
Myles Davis has been Xavier's leading scorer in Big East play, but he was miserable tonight. He shot 2-10/1-6/0-0 on his way to 5/3/0 on the game. The ball fell to him for a tough look with five seconds left, and he put the capper on a rough night by not being able to convert the look. The less said about this night for Myles the better.
Perennial team engine Remy Abell was good for the quitest 11/5/1 you're ever likely to overlook. He shot 4-5/3-3/0-0, defended hard, and generally made himself useful all game. He stole the ball from D'Angelo Harrison on St. John's last possession and probably got fouled on his way to the rim, but the ball went out of bounds and Xavier was set up for their final possession, which ultimately came up short.
This loss really only damages Xavier's tournament resume in that it was a chance to pick up a very good win and Xavier couldn't convert it. The Musketeers will now have Nova at home and Creighton on the road before heading to MSG for the conference tournament. X probably needs two more wins before Selection Sunday to make things comfortable when the Committee reveals the bracket. Coming up a point short of getting one of them hurt tonight.
Odds and ends:
-Xavier clubbed St. John's on the boards, with a 76.9% DReb% and a 35.9% OReb%.
-James Farr had 4/4/0 on 2-5 shooting.
-Matt Stainbrook made one field goal all night.
That's it from me for now. Brad will be on in the morning with the narrative recap, and we'll roll into the Xavier Power Rankings tomorrow and KenPom Bracketology on Wednesday.