Pick your verb. Obliterated? Annihilated? Dominated? Destroyed? Humiliated? Whatever you like, X did it to Ball State tonight. The final score of 96-50 accurately reflected how much Xavier controlled this game. No trap, no looking past, just demolishing someone and then moving on. Next up: the Shootout.
Travis Steele wasn’t messing around
Somehow, Xavier trailed this game 7-2 at one point. When the under 16 hit, Coach Steele took out four of the five guys on the floor and let them know in no uncertain terms (and in terms you probably shouldn’t use in front of your mom) what he thought of their effort until that point. Things changed, and dramatically, after that. “I thought we got off to a little bit of a tough start to start the game,” said the coach, before proclaiming he was mostly aggravated with turnovers. No coach is ever content.
Big Frosty is back
How about 24/7/4 and 9-11 from the floor? Ball State didn’t have a big man inside that couldn’t stick with Freemantle’s ability to move around to hunt his shot. Zach ended up playing 20 minutes and really looked like his old self again. That he looks like his legs are back under him is a huge boost going into Saturday.
Turnovers are still a problem
Xavier turned the ball over 18 times against a Ball State team that isn’t particularly adept at forcing turnovers. Some of that is down to the pace of the game, but Xavier also committed the kind of brain dead turnovers that are plaguing them this year. A pass from Paul Scruggs went right through Adam Kunkel’s hands, both Dwon Odom and Jerome Hunter forgot the ball while dribbling, and Zach Freemantle threw a two handed fastball to Nate Johnson that hit and possibly damaged the rim. Xavier is going to lose a game because of the turnover problem. A 22% turnover rate against a team that doesn’t force them is awful.
The three point shooting is rounding into form
Xavier was 12-25 tonight and seven of the 10 players who saw court time knocked one down. Jerome Hunter, the eternal optimist was 1-4 and Adam Kunkel was an entirely forgivable 0-3. Other than that, the team looked really good. Nate Johnson was 4-7 to jump to 49.1% on the year and the overall effort raised the team to 34.1%.
That was fun
Everyone on the team, with the exception of the luckless and flu ridden Kyky Tandy, looked to be having a blast today. Cesare Edwards three got nearly as big a reaction Paul Scruggs missed dunk attempt just moments earlier. Basketball is a blast when it is going well, and right now it is going well for Xavier. Winning begets confidence, and confidence begets winning.
Colby Jones has taken the lead
On the way to a quietly excellent 14/8/5, Colby Jones knocked down another two threes. Dieonte Miles did not have an attempt from the line. Jones is now shooting 38.1% from three to Miles’ 36.4% from the line. Come on, Dieonte!
The defense was excellent
When the team scores 96 the story is going to be the offense. There’s no escaping that. Xavier’s defense is their meal ticket, though, and it was amazing tonight. Ball State came into the game ninth in the nation in three point shooting, they went 7-31. The Cardinals scored .62 points per possession tonight. That kind of defense will win a lot of games. Xavier dominated the defensive glass, forced 20 turnovers, and never let Ball State into the game at all.