Xavier got off to its signature slow start today, but a 17-0 run that straddled the half put the Musketeers firmly in the driver's seat. Creighton fought back as Xavier got complacent, leading to a nail-biting finish at Cintas. The opening rounds will be on Wednesday, and Xavier will be in action at 7pm on Thursday against the winner of Marquette and St. John's.
This team plays its best inside out
Creighton opened up the game shooting really well from deep, and Xavier tried to match them a bit. When the team calmed down and started working the post, Creighton's buttery soft interior players opened up, and Xavier came roaring back. By the time the half struck, Reynolds, Farr, and Gates had combined for 24 and 10 and X was in control of the contest. Sharing the ball is a big part of how Xavier wins, and cycling it through the post really makes the defense adjust.
Coach Mack has developed into a good in-game coach
I don't know that I'd call him elite at this point, but he has really stepped up his game in terms of pulling the strings during game play. Creighton started the game by screening the top of the 1-3-1 and getting wide-open looks with skip passes. Mack adjusted by sending the point man under the screen to cut off the wing-to-wing pass and then switched to the man. Xavier's defense locked in after that. Mack took a lot of abuse early in his career for not being able to adjust in-game, but he has clearly grown past those struggles at this point.
The Big East needs to do something about the officiating
Does every conference have this problem? There were two sets of calls today that really illustrated how bad the Big East officials are. First Jalen Reynolds got called for a flagrant foul early in the first half for contesting a shot that ended up with Maurice Watson on the floor. It was just a basketball play that made a guy fall down, but Creighton's Zach Hanson was victimized on a similar call later in the game.
Perhaps realizing they weren't controlling the game early in the second half, the refs called Edmond Sumner for two ridiculously soft fouls against Geoffrey Groselle in a single possession. Then they went down the floor and got Groselle with a couple of really weak calls in one possession. By the end of the exchange, everyone on the floor was confused and frustrated.
Officiating based on reputations. Interminable and gratuitous monitor reviews. Inconsistent enforcement on touch calls. These are the hallmarks of bad officiating, and they've been the hallmarks of Big East officiating all season.