For those of you wondering why you don’t hold a ball until the end of the shot clock in a late game situation well, now you know. With 8:27 to play in the first half, Xavier trailed 24-10. From that moment on the Musketeers outscored the Friars by 11. Sadly, Big East rules stipulate that the entire game counts. You can’t simply no show for most of an entire half and then try to come back in this conference. Until Xavier fixes what is wrong with them to start, they are doomed to only being a top 25 team that feels like it peaks somewhere around 20.
Xavier has a point guard problem
Paul Scruggs had one of the better games he has had recently, but that’s something of faint praise. The Musketeers super senior went 4-9 inside the arc and 1-4 outside it for an offensive efficiency rating of 98. 16/4/3 is good, but that shooting line is troubling. Dwon Odom struggled, really badly, defensively and turned the ball over once in nine minutes. He was 3-4 from the floor, leaving Xavier with one guard who scored efficiently and one who did the other things well. This is not ideal.
The Big East has an officiating problem
The double foul on Adam Kunkel and Ed Croswell was one of the most genuinely stupid things I’ve ever seen happen on a basketball court. Croswell never established legal guarding position and it was an obvious block. Providence fans likely feel differently, but there is no way inside the basketball rules for that to be a foul on both players. Just incomprehensibly stupid. Throw in the usual array of missed calls both ways and you get another uneven performance from a bunch of people who don’t care one whit whether they get it right or wrong.
This loss is heavily on the shooters
Xavier took two bad threes this game. One was forced by Paul Scruggs, the other by Jerome Hunter. That leaves 16 that were in flow and, for the most part, open. Obviously the Musketeers weren’t going to make all of them, but making say, six, still a mediocre 37.5%, and they win the game. Make six of 18, 33%. and they win. Nate Johnson is four of his last 19 from behind the arc. That’s terrible. In Xavier losses he is 7-25. That is also terrible. In Big East play this season he is shooting 30% behind the arc. Someone has to start making threes. Adam Kunkel had his first game without a three point make since December 18th.
Turnovers weren’t a problem
Xavier has to fix the first eight minutes
Travis Steele mentioned that the Musketeers are losing the second war too much. I’m not sure what he does for the first four minutes, but Xavier doesn’t look good during those either. Too often the team comes out looking flat. Adam Kunkel rarely looks flat, neither does Dwon Odom. Just thinking out loud.
Onward and upward
Xavier is 14-5. That’s not awful. This loss didn’t really hurt the Musketeers resume. There’s another chance to grab a great win Saturday in Omaha. Knock down some shots, maybe grab an offensive rebound, and get back on the right track.