St. John’s is a team on the rise, but Xavier took an opportunity on Saturday to demonstrate the difference between beating someone like Butler and coming to the home of one of the elite teams in the Big East and winning. The Red Storm jumped to an early lead and looked ready to make a statement until Xavier unleashed one of their own, tearing off a 36-9 run and burying the game with extreme prejudice. That dismantling of a dangerous team might have been enough on most days, but Xavier also announced after the game that Myles Davis will be rejoining the team at the start of the spring semester after serving a suspension 15 times as long as Grayson Allen’s. It was a good day.
You get the teeth:
Odds are St. John’s didn’t intentionally annoy the Musketeers, but it was clear that happened. Xavier’s offense responded by hitting high gear and not looking back. Other than a 19-30 from the line that prevent 100 points, there were precious few offensive flaws. Other than Rashid Gaston, every player had an offensive rating over 100, every player made a field goal, the team went 10-21 from deep, shot 65% inside the arc, and only got blocked four times. That was a complete evisceration of a very decent defense.
Chris Mullin is still lost:
One point to emphasize this: Xavier trailed 18-11 at one point. They then tore off a 19-2 run to both take the lead and then salt it away. Mullin did not call timeout at all in that stretch. As his team completely decompensated right in front of him, he just watched. Prior to the game we mentioned that an extended 1-3-1 would likely be deployed to jump passing lanes and force turnovers. Sure enough, Xavier did just that and, sure enough, St. John’s looked surprised and unable to adjust. Finally, X gambled a bit and forced the Red Storm to look inside for offense. Once again, they seemed unwilling to adjust to what is now a crippling weakness, the inability to win a game when they have to shoot inside the arc. That comes down to coaching.
The Big East should flinch
The next game is against Villanova. Those guys aren’t afraid of anyone, and they shouldn’t be, but Xavier just tore apart St. John’s and Providence at home, and went on the road and came back on Georgetown. Now, they add the team’s best passer and a guy who shot 40% behind the arc in conference play last year. Myles Davis is more than the numbers as well, adding some of the steel that Xavier needs from time to time. Is there anyone in the Big East that is going to watch the game film from Saturday and see anything other than a strong team getting that much stronger? Butler fans are already cowering. That may be the way to go.