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Water Cooler Takes: This is becoming concerning

The refs may have been bad, but Xavier was a lot worse.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Butler
Just fall down, Quentin
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Apparently when Xavier loses one game they feel obligated to follow it up by losing the next as well. The Musketeers got destroyed by Villanova on Tuesday and lost again after giving 58 second half points yesterday. X has now faced three teams in KenPom’s top 25 and lost to all of them. At some point in time, all the theory about this being a team loaded with talent and capable of making a deep run is going to have to play itself out into a win of higher quality than Clemson. Just losing yesterday wasn’t enough, though, the Musketeers had to find a particularly galling way to do it.

You can’t win games shooting like this:

The Musketeers went to the line 39 times yesterday and somehow still lost the game. That could be because they shot 60% from the stripe in the first half and only 71% for the game. In a game that had essentially a three point final margin and was within one multiple times, that’s obviously very important. Trevon Bluiett was 6-9, Sean O’Mara and Rashid Gaston were both 2-4, JP Macura missed his only attempt, and if you subtract Edmond Sumner, the team shot 61% on their attempts for uncontested points. Game free throws or not, that’s hot garbage and it costs teams games.

But wait, there’s more! Xavier only took 19 threes this game but they only made six of them for a glittering 31% mark from behind the arc. JP’s falling sideways attempt with 1:37 left defied all logic and was part of an 0-2 from deep on a possession that Xavier desperately needed. Xavier is now 241st in the nation in three point shooting. This is no longer a small sample or just a rocky start. They’re a bad shooting team.

Trevon Bluiett is lost:

As Joel pointed out in the takeaways after the game, Trevon is shooting 8-40/5-25/15-19 in his last three outings. For the season he is shooting 32.5% behind the arc and only 49% inside the arc. Perhaps most alarmingly, Trevon’s offensive numbers currently resemble those of his freshman season very closely. For a guy who was supposed to shoulder the offensive load this year, that kind of regression just isn’t going to cut it. Xavier needs Trevon to be both more aggressive and more efficient. Instead, as he’s lost his shot, he’s retreated into becoming more and more of a jump shooter. This season he’s taken 12% fewer shots at the rim than he did two years ago. That’s not a positive.

Ed can take over a game:

Ignore the fact that it took him 24 minutes to figure it out, once Sumner figured out that he could take anyone in Indiana off the bounce, he did just that. Rather than settle for jumpers he got into the lane again and again and became Xavier’s most viable weapon. In the second half he was 5-7 from the floor and 12-13 from the line as he eviscerated a slow footed defense. Those 22 points in the last 12:08 very nearly got the job done. Had his teammates knocked down a couple of the shots that he created for them, this would have been a different game. (And no, we don’t have an injury update).

The officiating took a nose dive:

For one, Myles was shooting. Ignore the replays that look like he’s getting grabbed on the floor and watch when the official calls the foul. It’s when Myles is shooting. Yes, Butler Twitter is posting screengrabs as proof, but the intelligent fan knows that it’s when the foul is called, not the first instant you see contact, that matters. Secondly, the game ending steal game when Kamar Baldwin ran directly through Ed to grab the ball. His shoulder didn’t magically injure itself in a freakish non-contact play. He was fouled.

The reason this point is last is because no matter how bad the officials were, and they were quite bad all game, they aren’t the reason Xavier lost. The Musketeers simply didn’t play well enough to win even an impeccably officiated game (which this wasn’t). You can’t ignore two guys who shoot 5-6 from the floor, have your star go 2-10, have your other star not score for 28 minutes, have your most reliable passer cough the ball up seven times, rack up six assists on 22 made field goals, and then complain that you were robbed, regardless of how incredibly obvious the flopping was. If you want to win the game, maybe take the free points on offer and not worry about having to whine later.