The Musketeers were riding high everywhere except the Bahamas, holding an undefeated record on American soil when they went down to Auburn (which technically qualifies as American soil) to take on the fightin' Bruce Pearls. Twenty minutes into the game, it looked like X was going to head back north of the Mason-Dixon line with a fairly routine win in the bag and bigger things on the horizon. Then Xavier gave the game away in bits in pieces during the second half, leading to a debacle so horrifying that it gave us three of the most damaging plays of the year. We'll start from the finish and work backwards.
Remy Abell missed 3 with :01 remaining in the second overtime, -51% win probability. It never should have gotten here. Xavier should have salted the game away so many times before 50 minutes of basketball could be played. They didn't though, so Xavier ended up with the ball, down one, with 14 seconds remaining. Even that unenviable position had the game as functionally a coin toss: any bucket would likely win it, and even a split pair of FT would prolong the contest. It seemed all X had to do was attack the basket and let nature take its course. Instead, a visibly weary Remy Abell - who had played very well - dribbled off too much time at the top of the key before launching a three that hit nothing but glass. How did we even get to this point?
KT Harrell and-1 with 1:24 remaining in the first overtime, -28% win probability. It never should have gotten here. Xavier should have salted the game away so many times before 45 minutes of basketball could be played. They didn't though, so they found themselves clinging to a one-point lead in overtime. Harrell - who was irrepressible all night - attacked Remy Abell off the bounce, drew the call, and finished at the rim and then the line.
KT Harrell made 3 with 2:29 remaining in regulation -25% win probability. Realistically, it probably shouldn't have even gotten here. Xavier was up 13 at the half, 14 with 14 minutes to go, and 9 with 9 minutes to go, and they could never quite stop the bleeding. With Xavier riding consecutive turnovers and a two-minute scoring drought, KT Harrell caught a kick-out from Malcolm Canada and completed the comeback, vaulting Auburn from down two to up one with the final media timeout already in the rearview. In most games, this bucket would be remembered as a dagger. In this dumpster fire, it's barely even a footnote.
When the last and worst play comes with a second left, there's not much aftermath. The horn sounded and Xavier trudged to the locker room and then the bus wondering what had just happened in those final 30 minutes of ball after things had gone so right for the previous 20. Heck, I'm still wondering.
What we said at the time:
"The story of the night for Xavier was Remy Abell, upon whom they rose and, eventually, fell. For 45 minutes, when the bell rang, Remy was adequate to the task."