Xavier’s 10 game winning streak was relegated to the past tense today in snowy Providence as they slumped to their second loss of the season. It is not the end of the world, and Xavier will need to recover quickly for a trip to Villanova, but there were some things to note from today’s contest
The first half turnovers are becoming a big issue
Throughout the season Xavier has been trending toward being a bad first half team, in large part due to their inability to keep the ball during the first half of games. Today, 10 turnovers paved the way for Providence to lead by as many as 11 in the first half. Unlike against ETSU or DePaul at the Cintas Center, Providence had the Dunkin Donuts Center crowd at their back as Xavier tried to make their way back into the game, but a worrying trend reared its head again today and put Xavier in another hole, this time against a good opponent on the road rather than against a bad one at home.
Tre is slumping
Coming into today, it had been noted that Xavier’s star was not at his peak right now. Injuries have played their roles, but Bluiett has also been taking some questionable shots recently as well. He had 12 in the first half to lead all scorers today, but came up empty in the second, including missing the front end of a pair of one and one opportunities at the line. In close games, big players need to be sharp and Bluiett wasn’t close today down the stretch.
Xavier has a force of nature in the low post right now
With Bluiett and Macura MIA most of the second half scoring-wise, X turned to the post, where Tyrique Jones and Kerem Kanter answered the bell to make this game even remotely a contest. Jones got started by ripping off 8 straight and forcing Nate Watson and Rodney Bullock into foul trouble. Then came Kanter, pouring home 19 of his season high 24 in the second frame as he nearly singlehandedly tired to drag Xavier back into the game. In the end it wasn’t enough, but all told the two combined for 36 points and 19 rebounds in 35 minutes on 14/21 from the floor. It was a losing effort for X, but it was a heck of an effort from their bigs today.