Well that was no good. Xavier started off poorly on offense, but the defense was stifling and the Muskies led by as many as nine in the first half and carried a six-point lead into the break.
Then, just as with the mid-week game at Nova, the wheels came off. Butler scored the first nine of the second half to take the lead. Xavier battled back but could never get the upper hand. Trevon Bluiett fouled out with 10 points on 2-10 shooting with 3:20 left. The Muskies had a couple of chances to tie it down the stretch, but could never get the bucket they needed.
Losses at Nova and at Butler aren’t necessarily anything to be glum about, but when they come back to back and the team’s last win was a week ago against St. John’s, they’re hard to see as anything but discouraging. Here’s some more grist for the negativity mill.
Trevon is in a massive slump
In the last four games, Trevon is shooting 8-40/5-25/15-19. His shot selection has gotten progressively more three-point oriented, from taking 44% of his shots from deep as a freshman to taking 55% of them from beyond the arc this year. Not only that, but he’s shooting just 33% from deep this season. Bluiett isn’t shooting as efficiently this year as he did last season, and a large part of that is down to his choosing more long jumpers than ever before. Maybe we need those 15 pounds back.
We’re not getting the most out of our offense
RaShid Gaston and Sean O’Mara combined to shoot 5-6 from the floor and only turn the ball over once today. That’s only interesting in the context of how little they got the ball on the post. Moreover, Ed was more or less ineffective until the last 16 minutes of the game when he started driving relentlessly. Outside of those two bright spots, Xavier’s offense once again seemed to revolve around the “lift a ton of long jumpers” strategy that served them so well at Villanova. I’m sure Coach Mack knows at least as much about basketball as I do, but it’s beyond me why the ball isn’t going towards the rim more for Xavier.
We’re not doing well on the road
Xavier is now 1-4 in true road games, with the lone win coming at Georgetown. It’s true that all four losses have been graded as A-level games by Ken Pomeroy, but at some point enough losses that aren’t bad alone add up to be bad in the context of the season. Xavier still has to play A-level road games in conference against Creighton, Providence, Marquette, and Seton Hall. Those all come after Xavier’s next road game, a non-conference matchup against UC on Thursday, 1/26. Hopefully the Muskies have come up with something by then.