What happened: Creighton 79 - Xavier 72
This game was lost in a lot of places, but perhaps the most frustrating one was the glass. Creighton came into the game as a very good defensive rebounding team but an almost hopeless one on the offensive end. Then center Will Artino - the team's best rebounder - got into foul trouble and played only seven minutes. Despite that, Xavier allowed Creighton to get 12 offensive rebounds (36.4%) and 14 second-chance points. The Bluejays' last three offensive rebounds kept alive possessions that ended in three-point baskets. We talk a lot on here about killing possessions with defensive rebounds, and Xavier illustrated last night why that is so important.
The Musketeers' defense is looking increasingly hopeless. Xavier forced 17 turnovers; the possessions that didn't end in turnovers yielded an average of 1.46 points for Creighton. For perspective, the average two-shot trip to the free throw line is worth 1.38 points. Statistically, Xavier would have been better off fouling Creighton every time they didn't force a turnover rather than playing defense. I would tell you it's frustrating to watch, but you already know that.
Let's try to find some positives from a team with tournament dreams losing to a team that won't qualify for the CBI.
Dee Davis had 9 assists and no turnovers, part of a 12/1/9 line on 4-10/1-3/3-5 shooting. Yes, I know he shoots more than he should. Yes, it sure would have been nice if he had made the free throws he missed, since they both came in regulation of a game we lost in overtime. In his last four games, Dee has 27 assists and 2 turnovers and could have more assists if anyone on the team could hit an open three. He's maybe not as much of the solution as he tries to be, but he's definitely not the problem.
A little bit of a slow start turned into a very respectable 16/3/0 on 5-9/4-5/2-2 shooting in 40 minutes of play for Remy Abell. Musketeers not named Remy Abell combined to go 2-14 from deep. I know this is Remy's paragraph, but that's awful. Remy had a usage rate of 12% last night; maybe we need to find a way to get him the ball in shooting positions a little bit more, because he's not the kind of guy who hunts his own jump shot.
Jalen Reynolds fouled out - of course - but it took him 30 minutes of playing time and he accumulated 17/8/1 on 5-9/0-0/7-10 shooting before being disqualified. Reynolds also added three steals and three blocks, one of which was a spectacular swat of a driving Devin Brooks with 2 seconds left in regulation.
Myles Davis quietly had an okay night. His shooting was off - 2-7/1-4/6-6 - but he was good from the line and had 11/4/4 with only one turnover. Aside from a cameo from the largely ineffective Brandon Randolph, Myles was and remains the closest thing Xavier has to a backup point guard. Remember when this team was deep and could really shoot it?
With all that said, there was one time when it looked like Xavier was going to take control of the game. James Farr scored off of a Myles Davis assist to put the Muskies up 44-37 with 13:32 to play and prompt a timeout from Creighton. In their next six possessions out of that timeout, Creighton went 5-5/1-1/3-3. They also held Xavier to 2 points in the next 4:46 of game time. X couldn't keep their foot on the throat of an opponent, couldn't get key stops, and had nobody to take the ball and go get a bucket. In essence, one 14-2 Creighton run encapsulated everything that has held Xavier back this season.
Odds and ends:
-Matt Stainbrook struggled all night and was held without an assist for the first time since the Alabama game.
-The Muskies had 17 assists on 22 made baskets, which is a very good assist rate.
-Three blocks and three steals were both career highs for Jalen, as were 17 points and 30 minutes of playing time.
-Xavier shot as many threes as twos despite shooting 52.6% from inside the arc and 31.6% from beyond it.
-It's hard not to hate everything right now; I'll turn it over to my dad, who embraced the darkness.
-"Pound it inside all night."
-"We look like garbage so far; need a shooter in the game."
-"JP can't buy one."
-"Put your warm-up back on, Brandon."
-9:38pm, Xavier down 20-13 with 8:50 to play in the first half: "Write it down; this one is over. Slow on D, lost on O, can't shoot. Gonna be beaten by Creighton at home."
-"How can [Kreklow] be that open?"
-"Got to quit hedging so far, we can't recover."
-"Wrong!!!!! How can a college official miss that?"
-"Got to get the ball to Reynolds."
-"Stain doesn't have it tonight."
-"Four on the floor at our end... nothing. Touch foul on Trevon at the other end."
-"I stand by my prediction; we lose this one."
-"41 hooked Sweet Music! That ref is awful."
-"We are awful. We may not win another game. Butler will whip us and Villanova will just destroy us."
-"I hate to harp, but the reffing has been awful again."
-"We need to rebound. Can anyone rebound?"
-"The NIT is a nice tourney."