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Xavier holds on to defeat Wake Forest 69-65

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Recap and three takeaways from the Muskies’ win over the Demon Deacons at the Cintas Center

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Xavier
We looked almost this good all game.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Well that wasn’t exactly to plan. Xavier got off to a hot start by hitting their first three attempts from beyond the arc, but careless play saw the Muskies sitting on 10 turnovers and one-point deficit at the half. Xavier came out well and established a lead, but every time they stretched it to a couple of possessions, they let Wake back in. It was only when the game got to the free throw line that Xavier was finally able to salt it away, and even that was an exercise in agony as X missed two front ends and shot just 3-6 from the stripe in the last minute.

Xavier was led by Bluiett’s 20/7/1 on 6-14/3-7/5-8 shooting, though he had 3 turnovers. Ed’s 17/4/2 was marred by 6 turnovers. The player of the game in my mind was RaShid Gaston, who dropped 14/4/1 on 6-9/0-0/2-3 shooting, didn’t turn the ball over, blocked 2 shots, and helped hold Wake Forest stud John Collins to 12 points on 6-19 shooting. Here are three other things we learned:

RaShid Gaston is the real deal

I’ll confess that, early on in the year, I didn’t know if RaShid Gaston was taking time to adjust or if he was overmatched. I think we have our answer now. Shid ate heartily against Colorado and Utah, then he did work against John Collins, a dude who was averaging 20 and 10 coming in. If you still have questions about Gaston, I’m interested to know what he needs to do to answer them at this point.

We desperately need to clean it up

Turnovers were once again an issue for Xavier, who has been languishing in the mid-100s in the nation in TO% all year. X did well in the offense in the half court when they could get into it, but too many possessions were cut down in their primes by the ball going to the wrong team or out of bounds. It was less about Wake making life difficult and more about Xavier just not executing on the offensive end. Too many unforced errors kept Wake in this game for a long time. Hurry back, Myles.

The depth is still developing

Sean O’Mara, Quentin Goodin, Kaiser Gates, and Tyrique Jones came off the bench to combine for a grand total of 4 points. Three of those guys have at least some defensive application, but you can’t defend your way to a win if you can’t score. You’d think at least Kaiser and Sean would be good for some points before this season is done, but my goodness would you like to see them sooner rather than later.