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Xavier falls at home to UConn: Three Takeaways

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The Musketeers came out and played well for the first 8 minutes, but struggled for much of the next 32 in their return to play.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Xavier Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier got back to games today, having spent just two days together as a team since beating Butler, and spoiled a hot start with a disjointed, out of synch performance to fall to 4-3 in the Big East.

Zach Freemantle was slumping, not bad

Much was made of Freemantle’s struggles at various times in Big East play, but he was almost the only thing Xavier had going today. Battling against a premier shot blocker in Isaiah Whaley, Freemantle was good for 30 points, although the fact that he was the only thing going for Xavier meant he used a lot of possessions to get there, he did provide Xavier a focal point and was able to keep away from the turnover issues that have hamstrung him.

Defensive rebounding remains an issue

After struggling to keep a pretty mediocre offensive rebounding team of the glass last game against Butler, UConn was able to take full advantage today and used their superiority on that end to corral 12 of their 35 misses and get 12 second chance points. With Bryan Griffin out due to Covid protocols, Xavier never really got a lineup running that was able to keep the Huskies from getting either the shots they wanted or the ball back when they missed.

Xavier needs to figure out how to get the best from the rotation

With the team having played once in the past 5 weeks in the middle of the season, keeping everyone fresh and getting the right matchups with players getting back into the swing of things was always going to be tricky, but moving forward Xavier needs more from the reserves than they got today. With Jason Carter struggling for his 22 minutes of play, Xavier got just 13 points and 6 rebounds in 46 minutes from the bench, and were not able to find the solution to their defensive rebounding or scoring issues there. Both Paul Scruggs and Carter struggled at times today, meaning there was opportunity for the four freshman on the bench to make their mark on this game but, on a day when UConn got 41 points from their non starters, moments when Xavier’s bench was able to shift the game in their favor were all too few. All 4 of Odom, Jones, Wilcher, and Miles showed flashes of the game changing talents they posses, but with the team short handed and the rotations affected by the layoff, it was not quite enough for Xavier today.