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Xavier does enough to hold off Utah, get back into the win column

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RaShid Gaston and JP Macura lead the way for Xavier in a home win.

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t always beautiful, but Xavier fended off a game Utah team to move to 8-2 on the season. The Muskies started hot behind some serious work on the glass by RaShid Gaston and a barrage from deep by the previously cold JP Macura. A lead that was once as many as 15 was down to 11 by the half and as low as 4 in the second half, but Xavier salted the game away at the line to hold onto the home win.

Free throws are still a thing

Don’t @ the coach or the players, but this is kind of turning into an ongoing trend. Xavier left points at the line in road losses over the last week, and they did so again tonight. Part of it is bad shooters going to the line, part of it has been good shooters missing. You hate to see something like that costing a team games, but it already has for Xavier. X executed down the stretch from the line, but they were 5-11 from the stripe before the Utes started fouling to stop the clock.

Coach Mack is experimenting with the small lineup

Everyone who looked at the roster this summer started to wonder what a team built around Kaiser Gates at the five might look like. As soon as Kaiser was healthy, Coach Mack demonstrated the same curiosity. Xavier ran the small lineup out there for really brief segments, using it more on defense than on offense (for whatever that’s worth). They never let it get exposed, but it’s definitely an interesting look that we’re going to see more of.

This team has a ton of talent

JP started hot and carried the load most of the way and ended as the leading scorer. Utah worked hard to keep Tre off the board, but he managed to contribute without forcing the issue. Meanwhile, RaShid Gaston picked up his third double-double in a Xavier uniform, dominating the glass and getting points off of sets and on stickbacks. Even without Myles Davis and much from Edmond Sumner, Xavier has the horses to handle most teams.