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Xavier 67-72 Creighton: Play bad basketball, lose bad games

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Why do people throw dirt? Because the thing they love is beginning to look dead.

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Xavier
Rashid Gaston was a Greek tragedy inside today
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

I’d drive my car off of a bridge, if I knew you weren’t inside. With the pedal to the floor, who could ask for more? A fantastic way to kill some time.

When Jesse Lacey wrote that he was pondering the futility of his life when compared with that of the other subject of the song. One can only imagine that, had he witnessed today’s Xavier game first, he’d have been more than willing to take his car all the more speedily to its watery destination, regardless of who was inside.

Xavier came into the game today needing a win to steady the ship. Instead, they got what has to be the most infuriating loss of this three game streak. Where Villanova was baffling in its completeness, Butler was almost expected due to the level of competition and being on the road, this loss was simply aggravating as Xavier made a whole host of errors in endeavoring to find a way to lose a game that Creighton wanted very much to give them.

Instead of a blow by blow of what exactly happened (Xavier showed up, played like steamed garbage, lost), this is going to be a dissection of what went wrong. The analysis will come, this is reaction to a bad game. One thing comes first because, whether it’s in the gym or in the game, it’s the kind of error that is just inexcusable.

Free throws:

The Musketeers went 16-29 from the line tonight. Myles took an 0 for, Rashid Gaston went 2-3, Malcolm Bernard was 1-3. JP Macura was the only Musketeer over 70% for the game. Coach Mack, God love him, can talk all he wants about the difference in gym and game free throws to defend his guys. He’s right, of course, shooting like utter dogcrap in the gym doesn’t cost your team games it should otherwise win. I’m not certain how to fix the free throws problems that have plagued the team and now cost them at least two games, possibly three. Thankfully, Xavier is paying someone many million dollars this year to solve just that problem. Unfortunately, he hasn’t.

Turnovers:

Xavier’s first turnover came when JP flawlessly executed a dribble handoff to the wrong team. How that happens is something of a mystery, how it somehow happens two more times in the same game boggles the mind. Xavier turned the ball over on 23% of their possessions against Creighton. They did it in a variety of ways. They kept running over guys after the refs clearly indicated the charge whistle would be an early one, they threw the ball directly out of bounds, they threw the ball directly to the other team, they ran into each other and watched the ball trickle away. It was a comedy of errors that was truly horrifying to watch.

Terrible shooting:

Xavier shot 46% inside the arc, 20% beyond it. This is a bad shooting team that isn’t getting any better. They just keep shooting from outside and teams just keep daring them to do it. They throw the ball inside and then they miss from in there. In one truly memorable and awe-inspiring sequence late in the game, they missed four shots, three from less than two feet out, with a chance to take the lead. Kaiser Gates finally ventured inside on one occasion and then just flat out blew a layup.

Rashid Gaston:

A caveat here: Rashid’s effort was consistently amazing today. If he keeps working like that, good things will happen. Can a guy be both the reason a team is in the game while simultaneously being the reason they lose? Gaston set out to find out the answer to that eternal question today. He was an absolute monster on the glass. There is no way to overstate how beastly he was inside. Nine offensive rebounds, eight defensive rebounds, and no one on Creighton willing to get anywhere near him late in the game. On the other hand, he shot 5-12 from the floor, missed those two absolute bunnies with 21 seconds left, and went 2-6 from the line. Never has a more confounding 12/17/1 been posted.

Excuses:

- When Myles settles in this team will go: Myles has played three games now, has missed all eight of the shots he has taken, and looks very much like a man way behind the rest of the team. There’s a price to pay for what Myles did, and he’s still very much in the process of paying it.

- This is the toughest stretch of the year: It is, but that doesn’t matter. When the committee looks at these games they aren’t going to care that Xavier was close against Creighton but for the free throws, or nearly had Butler on the road, or that Villanova was the best team in the nation at the time. There is no such thing as a good loss. None of these were. These were all just better teams beating a decent one.

- Officials: There’s no debate that Creighton scored at least four points on offensive goaltending today. In a game basically decided by three points, that’s big. The offensive foul whistle also grabbed Xavier more than it did the Jays. There’s just simply no blaming the men in stripes, though, when you are awful. Coach Mack gave two of those points back by yelling at an official who seemed unlikely to become the first person since James Naismith nailed up a peach basket to change a call. The rest of could have been made up by actually playing good basketball.

Throwing dirt:

If Xavier wants people to quit throwing dirt, it’s time to look alive.