With about 15 minutes left in the game, I got a text from my dad declaring that Xavier "had a good run" and hoping we'd get an NIT bid. Stiff upper lip, Dad; England expects that every man will do his duty and all that. From that point on Xavier did a bit of battling back, but it wasn't every quite enough to get over the hump as the 17,000+ Creighton faithful sitting from the floor to the ceiling in the Century Link Center exhorted the home team to victory. If you didn't get the chance to tune into CBSSN last night, here's enough to get you caught up and ready to talk about it with you coworkers Maurice Moss style.
We're the worst 21-3 team in Xavier history
Burn it down, fire the coach, hope everyone transfers out. Tom, get me the President on the phone. We're surrendering our position in Cuba. I know the knee-jerk response to a game that horrible to watch is visceral disgust, but the reality is that this is a darn good squad that had a really bad game. One showing like that in March and you're the backdrop to emergence of whoever the next Dunk City is. This is February though, a month that wouldn't even exist if Eve had said no to the serpent. 24 games into last season, X was 15-9. 24 games into the season in which X played Duke to the brink of the Final Four, they were 15-9 and had just beaten La Salle. There's still plenty of time for this to be okay.
Sticking with Ed was the right call
You'll hear a lot about how Maurice Watson was an unstoppable wrecking crew (he was) and how LAJ was the only Musketeer who looked like he had a prayer of stopping him (also true). During the first 12 minutes (in which Xavier was giving away the game) Watson was just 2-5/0-2/0-0 with 2 assists and 2 turnovers. In those 12 minutes, Xavier gave up 26 points in 22 possessions. Over the next 40 possessions, Xavier gave up just 31 points - a sterling .775 points per possession - as they tried to fight back in. Larry no doubt would have offered a defensive boost, but defense wasn't the issue for Xavier.
The offense was so bad that you don't need to worry
Xavier shot 21-70/1-21/13-20 last night, or .300/.048(!)/.650 if you prefer. You don't need me to tell you that's horrible. If Xavier had managed to be merely horrible on offense, this is a completely different game and probably a gutty road win. The Muskies settled for way too many jumpers, struggled to finish at the rim on drives, and saw their post players shoot 12-29. The team's free throw shooting wasn't good, but it's dragged down by late 0-2s from Sean O'Mara and Kaiser Gates; the main rotation players were 13-16 from the line. This offensive performance was too bad to be a worrying trend; it's a blip on the radar.
This was a wake-up call
Xavier needs to get back to being the bullies on the offensive end. Despite the miserable shooting numbers noted above, the Muskies got ORtgs of 96 from James Farr and 101 from Jalen Reynolds. Neither of those is going to cause you to print off and frame the boxscore, but either would have been enough to scratch out the win if the whole team had posted it. Shooting jumpers gets a lot harder when the other team knows you're going to do it. Xavier is better served to get the other team in scramble mode because their center is tired of getting beaten up; when that happens, open looks result, and those go down a lot better.
It's time to shake up the lineup
I love Remy Abell, but the only things stopping him from snaring the rare 11-minute trillion last night were two missed shots and a turnover. That's maybe acceptable if you're playing absolutely lock down defense and the rest of the team is picking up the scoring slack, but neither of those things was true last night. The team is better with JP out there, and it might even be better with LAJ out there. Until such time as Remy is capable of being the sort of lingering offensive threat he was last year, Xavier has better options currently on the bench. It's time to let them start.
Big East officiating is bad
It just is. When a team is (a) winning and (b) at home and their fans are still confused by what the refs are watching, something needs to change. Creighton and their fans (or at least the ones with Twitter) ticked those boxes last night. The refs didn't cost Xavier the game last night, but they sure didn't enforce the rules in a consistent and accurate manner, either.