Xavier came into this game desperately needing a win. They had been beaten twice at home in game where they came close to getting embarrassed. They needed a win to keep realistic thoughts of avoiding the NCAA bubble alive. Instead, they got crushed. Down to 57th in the KenPom and sure to take a commensurate plummet in the NET, they are now well out of the conversation.
The Musketeers didn’t originally look like they were going to get stomped, but they erased any hope early by falling behind by 10 early. Xavier never led. After the 17:29 they were never within 10. Four minutes later they were down 20 and never recovered. Xavier got obliterated, they got stomped, they got whatever your verb of choice is. Marquette never had to work, never looked stretched, never seemed troubled. The Eagles dispatched Xavier at a trot.
Xavier is not a good team that is struggling right now. They are, and for the last two years save one nearly season saving stretch at the end of last year have been, a bad basketball team. They don’t do the little things well, they don’t do the big things well, they lose or they win ugly. The team that beat TCU seems so much more an aberration after watching this that it requires a check of ESPN or KenPom to remember that it was real.
Quentin Goodin has morphed from a point guard undervalued because of his poor shooting to a point guard defined by truly horrendous shooting. He’s 2-29 from the floor since the Villanova loss. He is 0 of his last 20 from behind the arc. Inexplicably, almost as if tempting the fate of some basketballing deity, he keeps shooting them. The freshman that Twitter clamors for as the answer to all Q related ills, KyKy Tandy, has posted an average or better offensive rating just twice this year. He was 1-8 from the floor tonight.
Zach Freemantle was an early season bright spot and finished this game with 10. Eight of them came long after the thing was over as a contest. Perhaps no moment, except maybe Jason Carter running past Brendan Bailey as Bailey was on his way in for a dunk, encapsulated this game quite as much as Theo John grabbing an offensive rebound out of Freemantle’s hands and then cramming home a dunk through his defensive “efforts.”
Paul Scruggs and Tyrique Jones were good. They almost always are. They combined to score 27 on just one more shot than it took Tandy and Goodin to score three. Thankfully the guards didn’t waste time feeding Tyrique when the game was in doubt or they wouldn’t have been able to contribute to the 6-24 from behind the arc. Remove Freemantle’s 2-2 and the team was an appalling 4-22.
Marquette missed 34 shots and successfully corralled 15 of those misses. Rarely do teams win when allowing a 44% offensive rebounding rate. Xavier was not one of those teams tonight. God bless them, they missed enough shots to have plenty of chances at offensive rebounds, shooting 35.9% as a team, but the Golden Eagles, who came in 99th in defensive rebounding rate and 157th in offensive, dominated the Musketeers on the glass in both ends. It was men swatting aside boys. Of the 76 rebounds charted in the game, Marquette grabbed 16 more. Rebounding margin is generally a stupid stat, but tonight it reflected reality.
By the end of the game Xavier was trying. That was noteworthy only in that there was a long stretch in the second half where it appeared even that was an Arnhem worth bridge too far for the Musketeers. Travis Steele said something that got his guys going again, but nothing he could do or say could make them play well. For the first time since 1981-82 Xavier is 1-4 in conference play. If they keep playing like they did tonight, they’ll end 1-17.