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Xavier holds on in ugly, ugly win

Ugly wins are still wins, they just look like that.

NCAA Basketball: Buffalo at Xavier
The strategist behind Xavier’s win
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

If you have a dear friend that you want to start cheering for Xavier, maybe don’t show them this game. The Musketeers shot horribly, played bad defense at times, and looked wretched for 45 minutes. Somehow, they won. The officiating wasn’t good, the quality of basketball wasn’t good, it’s Xavier that heads back to hotels with a win.

Coach Mack is a set piece genius

Sometimes in a game like this, one coach has to flip the right switch to get the job done. With 1.7 on the clock in a tie game, Xavier did this with a sideline out:

In the possession prior to that, Kim Anderson had switched his team from the zone that had pushed Xavier to 2-22 from deep into a man to man. At the very end this game came down to coaching. Xavier has it, Missouri doesn’t.

Xavier can be zoned

This team is still very good without Myles Davis, but they missed him today 2-22 from deep was very nearly the main point in the first recap of a loss this year. Xavier’s last three point attempt was JP Macura from 27 feet on one of those shots that coaches love to tell you that you can always get. The zone left Xavier’s guards without ideas beyond “pull up and shoot.” When the offense got set and Sean O’Mara could go to work, he was effective. Too often though, a simple 2-3 zone was all it took to disrupt a frankly very bad Edmond Sumner.

The officiating in college basketball is broken

This is not a scrapbook piece. The Musketeers weren’t gallant heroes battling to efforts of officials clearly against them. Had they lost, the blame would be far more on 25-38 from the line and 40% from the floor than any blown whistle. That said the #RefShow that has marred the start of the last couple of season was back in full effect. The whistle blew for a foul roughly every 48 seconds. That’s bad enough, but multiple travels on both sides were somehow blatantly ignored and officiating on the perimeter was inconsistent. The NCAA can want the game to be faster and produce more offense all it wants, but all this standard of officiating is doing is making household names out of guys wearing stripes.