Capitulate (v.)- cease to resist an opponent or an unwelcome demand; surrender.
You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise if all you have seen is the final score, but Xavier controlled 19:50 seconds of this game. With ten seconds left in the first half, Xavier was up 10. They got outscored by 23 the rest of the way. If there is a way that a team can fail, Xavier did it in the second half. They turned the ball over, missed shots, turned it over some more, missed some more shots, played horrible defense, let their effort sag, and in general looked like 20 minutes of effort before the break was probably sufficient. It wasn’t, not against Villanova. Chris Mack was right, this was “the annual Villanova ass kicking.”
Jerome Hunter is adding nothing right now
If Hunter is going to be steamed garbage on offense, which he is, and not rebound, which he doesn’t, he needs to at least play defense. Tonight, he didn’t do that either. Nova’s bigs dominated Xavier on the glass and Eric Dixon was unstoppable inside if he had anyone other than Jack Nunge on him. If this is what Hunter has to offer, and defensively he’s been excellent this year, Dieonte Miles needs to play more.
Zach Freemantle isn’t back
In games against real competition this year, Freemantle is averaging a less than stellar 6.25 points per game. Tonight he went for 6/3/1 and had essentially no impact on the game beyond a couple of quick buckets in the first half.
Villanova is still good
The reports of the Wildcat demise have been greatly exaggerated. After struggling in the first half, Nova clamped down on defense in the second. There will undoubtedly be online whining about the officiating, but this was the best 20 minutes of defense that an opponent has played against Xavier and it stymied the Musketeers.
Paul Scruggs play is becoming a concern
Tonight Scruggs played 27 minutes, more than any other guard other than Nate Johnson. In that time he went for 6/7/4. That’s not a superficially bad line, but he needed 10 shots to get six points and turned the ball over three more times. His turnover rate is just over 25% and his offensive rating has dipped down to 92.7. For comparison, Jason Carter’s ORtg last year was 98.2. Xavier’s super senior needs to find it.
This wasn’t the end of the season
Villanova is very good and playing them at the Pavilion is a historically hard challenge. Xavier failed, at times spectacularly, tonight. There’s no need to punt on the season, denigrate the coach, or panic. It isn’t even New Year’s yet. Travis Steele has been doing a good job, and the team is exceptionally well set for the rest of the season. Take a deep breath, get off Twitter (please), and look at the body of work. That was a very deeply frustrating 20 minutes, but X has 18 games to go. 11-2 right now is good.