Xavier split its games this week, beating Ohio by 21 but losing to UC by 15.
It was an up and down week for the Musketeers. It took 30 minutes to pull away from Ohio, but they closed out that game well en-route to a 21 point victory. Against UC it was almost the opposite. They started out well, kept the game close for 15 minutes, before UC pulled away over the last 25.
There are plenty of stats that point to why they fell to UC and ended up pulling away from OU. The reasons are mostly in line with season long trends, though a couple fall outside this category.
This is how three-pointers Quentin Goodin and Naji Marshall are averaging per game, combined this year, 9.9, of the team’s 22.8 attempts a game. The volume wouldn’t be as much of a factor if they shot a high percentage from the field.
However, they are both shooting 22.7% a game from three-point range. Goodin is averaging the most attempts per game on the team at 5.5, while he and Welage (5.4) are the only two shooting more than Marshall’s 4.4 a game.
The team is shooting 38.5% from deep outside of Marshall and Goodin. While there is a, fairly large, chance their percentages rise, right now, they should not be taking this many threes.
Xavier gave a combined 34 points off turnovers last week, with 19 coming against Ohio and 15 coming against UC. The Musketeers also committed 27 turnovers in those two games, 15 against Ohio and 12 against UC.
Cleaning up the turnovers will help not only the offense score more efficiently, but it also help the defensive numbers by preventing easy transition and fast break points. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, and cleaning up turnovers helps on both sides of the ball.
Xavier allowed 12 offensive rebounds against UC, which led to 12 second chance points. This was a major factor in the outcome, as UC won by 15, and led to some momentum sparks for the Bearcats.
A Keith Williams dunk about six minutes into the second half helped UC push their lead to double digits, while they also went up 20 on an offensive rebound. Steele has said that to win Xavier needs to dominate the glass, and that wasn’t the case on Saturday.
There’s been a lot of negative numbers so far, but it hasn’t been all bad. Case and point, Xavier shot 16-22 from the field in the second half against Ohio, which is 72.7%. They also made three of their five three-point attempts and 12-16 free throws in the half.
Obviously Xavier can’t shoot at that level game in and game out, but it’s encouraging to see the offense dominate for a full 20 minutes.
To cap off this week’s key stats installment, let’s talk about Paul Scruggs. He had two career highs against Ohio with eight assists and four steals. He also scored 21 points in that game. Despite his fouls against UC, he still managed 11 points, five rebounds, a block and a steal while also diving for any loose ball around him.
He shot 12-17 from the field, 4-5 from three-point range, and 4-4 from the foul line. To this point, you would have a strong case if you said he’s been the team’s best player so far. He leads the team in offensive box plus/minus, defensive box plus/minus, box plus/minus, tied for the lead in win shares, and is second in points produced and defensive rating.
He’s putting together a strong sophomore campaign so far, and the numbers only prove it.
*All stats courtesy of official game box scores and sport-reference.com