The final score is close, but Xavier never really threatened Butler after allowing 16-3 and 15-2 runs. The Musketeers tried to close the gap, but never got within one possession and the only times they got within two possessions Butler had an answer. This is by no means a damaging loss. Q1 opponents on the road are supposed to be tough to beat, and Xavier couldn’t beat Butler tonight. X started the night 47th in KenPom, they end it 46th, they came in 40th in Bart Torvik, they end the night 39th. Preliminary NET numbers show a jump from 44th to 42nd after a loss. Playing in the Big East means the damage is never to great. An opportunity lost, but no harm done.
Tyrique needs some more help from somewhere
Xavier’s monster was a monster again to the tune of 19/10/2. Naji Marshall roared to life in the second half for 20/7/7. Zach Freemantle got his brains beaten in (more on that in a moment) on the way to 9/5/0. Beyond that, no one did anything worthwhile offensively. That’s not an exaggeration, either, the rest of the team was putrid on offense. The Musketeers not named shot .208/.250/.000. That, obviously, is quite bad. Paul Scruggs is in a semi-slump, KyKy Tandy has been very good but is still a freshman, God knows what each night will bring from Jason Carter, and Quentin Goodin has played poorly in back to back games. This is a thin team that can’t afford to have multiple players have off nights.
You can’t afford to let up
Xavier had been playing elite defense during their three game winning run. Tonight, they didn’t. Butler scored 1.12 points per possession and shot 47.2% from the floor. X used Naji Marshall on Sean McDermott, but McDermott found enough space to lead Butler with 14. That left Quentin Goodin on Kamar Baldwin, and Quentin Goodin can’t guard Kamar Baldwin, though he can commit exceptionally stupid fouls on him 35 feet from the bucket in a dead dribble situation, so there’s that. The Bulldogs grabbed almost a third of the shots they missed and only turned the ball over nine times. Xavier’s defense just wasn’t good tonight,
Officiating remains a problem
We’ve not mentioned this much this year both because it’s understood that the Big East, and college basketball at large, have an officiating problem and because it hasn’t made a huge impact on many Xavier games. It did tonight. Both of Butler’s bigs fouled out multiple times over but escaped with only four apiece. Zach Freemantle got clubbed most of the times he drove, Naji Marshall got knocked into the cameras not once but twice, and Paul Scruggs was literally grabbed and thrown to the ground. (There were examples for Butler as well, I’m quite certain, I just didn’t mentally catalog them given the brain space missed calls against X was using.)
Perhaps the officials were trying to let the game resemble a scene from Grand Theft Auto or maybe violence simply arouses them. I can’t speak to that. What is evident is that the complete lack of oversight in matter of officiating means the same talentless hacks get to keep working games. Again I ask you to imagine being this bad at your job. No employer would let that stand. The Big East doesn’t just let it stand, they reward it. Their reward? Trash employees doing a trash job.