Xavier suffered its first loss of the season in the lone game last week against Wisconsin, 77-68.
Welcome to the second installment of key statistics from the previous week of Xavier basketball. Since there was only one game last week, the loss to Wisconsin, I will also look at the trends that have surfaced so far.
This was Xavier’s shooting line as a team. While the 45.8% from the field isn’t that bad, the 20.4% from three and 56.3% from the free throw line are abysmal. This particularly true given the team shoot 24 threes and 16 free throws.
In that kind of volume, the percentages for both have to be better. Wisconsin shot 56.3% from the three point line alone.
So far, Xavier is shooting 32% (24/75) from three-point range. There will be nights like Tuesday where very little is falling, and nights like the one against Evansville, where the team shot 10/22 from deep. The shooting will most likely improve during the season, as most things do. But, how much better, and more consistent, the shooting will get will help determine a lot for this team.
No, this isn’t Wisconsin’s shooting line. This the percentage of points, rebounds, and assists that Ethan Happ, Brad Davison, and D’Mitrik Trice accounted for on Tuesday night.
This trio combined to shoot 29/46 (63.04%) from the field and 9/11 (81.81%) from three-point range. The offense between them managed to beat Xavier’s defense many times, especially during Wisconsin’s 16-2 run to open the second half. They accounted for 14 of the 16 points and every rebound during that stretch.
This was the rebounding margin on Tuesday, as Xavier only grabbed 32 rebounds to Wisconsin’s 40. Similar to the trio for Wisconsin, two players dominated the glass for Xavier, while everyone else seemed to struggle.
Zach Hankins and Naji Marshall combined for 23 of the 32 rebounds, with Hankins grabbing 10, while Marshall grabbed 13. Outside of those two, no other Musketeer had more than two.
Paul Scruggs failed to grab any, while Tyrique Jones was limited to one. Jones only getting one was a surprise given his performances last week, and though Scruggs was limited to 23 minutes because of foul trouble, a zero is also a surprise.
Travis Steele talked a lot about how important rebounding on both ends was going to be to the team’s success, and Jones and Scruggs were supposed to be major components to that. Scruggs had totaled six rebounds in each of his first two games, while Jones averaging 13 a game in the opening week.
Whether this was just an off night, problems with the length, or still learning is still to be seen, but, as shown Tuesday, these performances need to be minimized.
Another thing Steele emphasized in the preseason was forcing turnovers. Well, so far, Xavier has been one of the worst in the country in that category. According to KenPom.com, Xavier ranks only 322nd in defensive turnover percentage, at 14.6%.
This likely due to the players still getting used to playing in the system, along with the lack of pressing through three games. It’ll be a surprise if it doesn’t improve, but right now it’s worth keeping an eye on to see if it improves enough to make an impact.
There will be plenty more to dissect next week, as Xavier will play three games in three days this week as a part of the Maui Invitational, beginning with their matchup against Auburn on Monday at 2:30 p.m. EST.
This team is still very much in the “figuring things out” stage, which is fine at this point in the season. As long as they show flashes of what they can be, the hope is still there that they will be able to put it all together.
Outside of the 16-2 run to open the second half for Wisconsin, and their 10-2 run to start the game, Xavier looked very good. Obviously those possessions cannot be ignored, but the flashes are there.
These stats provide a glimpse into where the team is right now, and where they need to improve. Things will improve as stuff gets figured out, and that’s likely to happen sooner rather than later with the upcoming slate of games.
*All stats courtesy of official game box scores and KenPom.com