Wow. Wow wow wow. In a game Xavier could not afford to lose in terms of at-large chances, they came within about an inch of doing just that. Austin Chatman launched an NBA three that was in the air when the horn expired, and it hit the near side of the rim and bounced out. It was a pretty good look that Myles Davis challenged late, and it was within a barely meaningful margin of sending Creighton home winners.
Other than that, this game was all about Matt Stainbrook. Xavier's senior big man went bonkers against the Creighton front line, dropping 26/9/3 on 11-14/0-1/4-7 shooting, and I don't even care about that missed three because he clearly had reason to believe this was his night. Creighton ran Geoffrey Groselle, Will Artino, Toby Hegner, and Zach Hanson at him, and those four combined for 18 fouls on the game. Stainbrook didn't draw all of them (obviously), but he was dominating inside and all they could do was try to slap him.
Trevon Bluiett had some trouble getting it going offensively, missing his first six on his way to 3-9/0-4/3-4 shooting and 9/5/4. He kept going after buckets and eventually scored it a little bit. He also did a great job staying engaged, moving well without the ball and grabbing those 4 assists without a turnover. Even on days where he shoots really poorly, he shows why he was such a highly regarded player out of high school and why we expect so much of him going forward.
How about Larry Austin, Jr.? He hasn't been getting consistent minutes, but he stepped in with Dee Davis out in the first half due to foul trouble and ran the team for long stretches. His stat line of 4/0/0 isn't going to send anyone running to revise his Freshman of the Year ballot, but he worked the offense well, didn't turn the ball over, and shot 1-2/0-0/2-2 while playing respectable defense. He had four fouls on the game, but that was hardly his fault.
Other than Trevon's 0-4, Xavier was 5-12 from behind the arc. Myles got a couple early and finished 2-4, JP and Remy were each 1-1, and James was 1-2. Only Dee (0-2) and Matt (0-1) joined Trevon in not making a three despite attempting one. Xavier's shooting has been troublingly inconsistent this year, but being able to open up the floor with good numbers from deep is vital for this offense.
The officials once again did their best to make themselves the story here, calling an incredible 52 personal fouls, or one every 46 seconds. More troublingly, they weren't calling the game tight or loose but just seemingly blowing their whistles at random. Both teams and fanbases were rightly perplexed by the calls, and the officiating crew is fortunate that the frustration with them didn't spill over more than it already did in a game they completely failed to control. I don't like complaining about the officials, but they have been disappointing all year in conference play.
Odds and ends:
-The foul situation was so bad that Brandon Randolph was briefly on the floor, though he doesn't seem to have accumulated any stats.
-Jalen went for 6/7/1 on 2-2/0-0/2-4 shooting; I suspect his absence late in the game was due in no small part to Coach Mack wanting to make sure we didn't give away any silly technicals.
-Only Trevon, Larry, and Dee avoided turning the ball over for X today.
-Xaiver had 15 assists on 24 made buckets.
That's it from me, but stick around for the Conversation on Sunday and our Big East Tournament coverage all next week.