With 5:45 left, JP got a steal and a dunk to put Xavier up 71-69. At home. In a game Xavier absolutely needed. It looked like the team was rising to the occasion at the most clutch of times.
It fell apart from there. Xavier couldn't stop turning the ball over down the stretch, and that two-point lead turned into a ten-point deficit as Butler shot layup after layup off of sloppy play by the Muskies. What could have been a signature, life-affirming win turned into just another repeat of the same track the team has been playing all year.
There was a time when Xavier's identity was built on the defensive end. The school may not have been thrilled with “zip ‘em up,” but the fans were. When it came down to brass tacks, the team almost always had the toughness to dig in, get stops, and finish games. That has been missing this year, as Xavier has faded from second halves all season.
Maybe there's still time. Maybe something will click and this team will go on a late season run that will turn into two weekends or more of March Madness play.
If so, they're showing precious little evidence of that right now. Maybe Myles Davis was the last link to the Zip ‘Em Up Era Musketeers, and his ignominious departure put a bow on one of the most successful runs of basketball the program has ever seen. Whatever the case, it's shaping up to be an uncomfortable Selection Sunday for X fans this year.