What Happened: Xavier 74-66 St. John's
Coming out of an unforgiving first weekend of Big East play with a 1-1 record was not ideal for Xavier, but overall an understandable turn of events, given the sequence of playing Villanova and Butler within 49 hours of one another. That being said, we now come upon a week in the schedule where a split would be a pretty tough pill to swallow for X fans, which made the nerve wracking manner in which Xavier won this more galling that exciting. The Red Storm came out flat but adjusted, got the crowd behind them, and played like a team that wanted to turn their season around. Unfortunately for them, Xavier executed from the line down the stretch and got enough out of some key veterans to notch another win, although one that will not give us fans a lot of reassurance for future toad trips.
One guy who was everything Xavier needed him to be tonight (again) was Myles Davis, who only shot twice in the first half, due to his new found role as the team's interim point guard. He was solid handling the ball as the offense around him clicked for about the first 10 minutes and he dished out three assists early on in the first half. However, when the offense ceased to click and instead came to a sputtering, screeching crawl in the second half, Myles was nails down the stretch. From the 9:12 mark in the second half on, Davis was 3-5/1-2/9-9 shooting for 16 points, including 6 of Xavier's last 7. He ended the night with 19/3/4 on 4-9/2-5/9-9 and turned the ball over 3 times, although none came when he was putting the team on his back for the last quarter of the game. Xavier has some very talented players on the roster, but for the last 10 minutes, Myles was head and shoulders above everybody else in the gym tonight. Except for maybe...
Be honest, you are only still reading because of that killer cliff hanger, right? You're welcome. Jalen Reynolds did not start for the first time this season, and took a curiously long time to come off the bench. Furthermore, he didn't exactly set the world on fire with his performance once coming in with only 2/4/0 before halftime and a pair of turnovers to go with it. However, after a first half that saw St. Johns grab 12 offensive rebounds, Jalen led the way in a renewed effort to dominate the defensive glass in the second half, allowing just 3 offensive rebounds and 4 second chance points in the second half. In keeping with his trend, when one part of Jalen's game picked up, so did the rest and he turned his first half struggles into 10/13/0 on 4-8/0-0/2-4, once again showing his value to the team when he is at his best.
The guy who is the other half of Xavier's two headed post monster (don't ask me how to spell or say it, that is Joel's thing), James Farr, factored in pretty much the opposite way as Reynolds tonight. Farr went for 8/7/0, 8/4/0 of which came in the first half. Farr went the first 16 minutes of the game without a foul, but the whistles turned on him in the second half and he was limited to 9 minutes after halftime by his foul trouble. Still he was 4-4 from the floor and had a couple of blocks and a couple of steals, so it is really hard to walk away with a negative impression of how James played tonight, merely that another visibly disoriented Big East reffing crew decided to sporadically enforce the rules again.
A player who was consistent in his output across both halves was Trevon Bluiett, who was aggressive tonight, if not quite as efficient as he was hoping to be. Bluiett ended with 18/4/3 but it took 4-11/1-5/9-11 shooting to get him there. Bluiett continues to show his improvement on the defensive end over last season, and came up with 3 steals tonight, which is something that will keep him on the court even when he is not shooting as well as he was to start the season. Whether he is suffering from a drop off like he did last season or just a dip in his shooting, it is hard to deny that he has improved his all around game enough to continue to be a useful piece.
Another couple of guys who made their presence felt in the energy they brought tonight were JP Macura and Larry Austin Jr. In fact, they are such team players, they don't even mind sharing this paragraph. Macura notched his first start of the year tonight, finishing with 7/2/2 with a 3-7/1-2/0-1 shooting line and looked lie he was starting to feel his jumper just a little bit more than he had been. LAJ was solid again deputizing for Myles and ended up with 6/1/1 in 11 minutes. Larry only turned the ball over once during that time and JP didn't commit a turnover tonight, making them the only two X players to play over ten minutes and not commit multiple turnovers. On a night when St. Johns got 22 points off turnovers, these two were able to keep the ball safe for the most part.
Odds and Ends:
- Remy was back to being Remy with 6/1/1 on 3-5/0-0/0-2. Not even after a 21 point explosion does this guy get selfish.
- Makinde London made an appearance, grabbed a board, got fouled, and looked like he was getting back into the swing of things.
- Xavier was 4-7 from the line in the first half, but shot 18-22 from the stripe in the second, due largely to Myles and Trevon going 16-17.
- St. Johns got off 29 threes, but only hit on 7 of them. Federico Mussini was 5-8 an the rest of them were 3-21.
- Xavier only had two offensive boards and zero second chance points in the first half.
That is it from me. Brad will be back in the morning with a narrative recap and we will have our usual array of post game analysis (for free) before moving on to DePaul.