Xavier came into this game on the back of two losses and a couple of poor performances. While the play was not much better tonight it was at least enough for the win. This win over Butler doesn’t do much for X’s tournament resume but avoiding a loss was big and hopefully that will build some momentum. Other than that, this wasn’t a great performance to watch.
The game started with Zach Freemantle dominating and X jumping out to a 16-6 lead. X held a lead for the next 3 minutes before Butler went on a run to take the lead. Freemantle picked up his second foul with just over 4 to play in the half and the unlikely duo of Kyky Tandy and Daniel Ramsey keyed a 15-2 run for X. Unfortunately, both of these guys didn’t sniff the court in the second half.
The second half saw X hold a lead but not be able to bury the game despite several opportunities to do so. The rotation tightened up considerably despite the need for some life on offense and rebounding on defense. Dwon Odom scored some big buckets in this stretch to keep X in the lead before the final four minutes. The most impressive thing in the final stretch was Colby Jones pulling in big rebounds to kill of possessions. Carter and Freemantle both shot well from the line to sneak out the victory. This one was not a good performance but X made just enough plays to get it across the line.
Colby is a beast - Colby Jones was back in the starting lineup tonight and delivered an excellent performance. He shot 5-8 for a line of 13/11/4 and also came up with 4 steals. 8 of those rebounds were defensive and were key in the final stretch of the game. The guy is tough on defense and quietly efficient on offense and tonight he came up big.
REBOUNDING, We should try it - Butler grabbed 17 offensive rebounds tonight. That was almost 38% of their own misses. Thankfully, they are so bad that they couldn’t turn this into much of anything but against a good team this is a huge issue. The absence of Ben Stanley has left a vacuum in defensive rebounding and Jason Carter has pulled in just 9 defensive boards in the last 5 games. Colby Jones stepped up big tonight in that department but it has to pick up for X to make a good run.
It was a win - There is more we could get into from a performance this ugly but it would be depressing to do so. The main thing is that Xavier picked up a win, snapped a two game losing streak and has four more games on the schedule. Four more games where different guys will have to step up and make winning plays or give good contributions off the bench. The next game is a trip to struggling Providence where X will have another chance to get rolling again.