The winner of this game was likely walking away with a tick in the Q1 column. With Xavier having just missed a great chance against Indiana, the Musketeers needed a big win in their non-conference. Florida presented the chance to get that. After a really ignorant live ball turnover with the teams tied at 58, Xavier slowly took the game over and grabbed the big win that both schools needed. The Musketeers have taken the first steps toward locking down a decent at large resume already.
Xavier can’t stop anyone
Like, no one. Florida was missing Kowacie Reeves and still managed to average 1.08 points per possession and score 83 points. Until the Gators went a bit cold in the attempt to scramble back into the game, they were scoring a lot. The Musketeers problem came, once again, because their guards just can’t stay in front of anyone. Trey Bonham is very quick but was averaging 3.5 points per game. He scored 23 today. Souley Boum has fast hands, Adam Kunkel has quick feet, Kyky Tandy is just quick. None of them can stop dribble penetration.
No one can stop Xavier
The scoring output today was fantastic. All five starters were in double figures, four of them had offensive ratings over 120, the team shot 50% behind the arc. Unable to clamp down on Florida completely, Xavier decided to just outscore them. Imagine reading that sentence last year. Just writing it was strange. Today, the Musketeers just kept scoring.
Rebounding remains an issue
As Joel mentioned in our podcast, part of the reason Xavier has been struggling to rebound this season is because the bigs keep getting caught in rotation by guards getting beaten off the dribble. Today was a bit better as the Musketeers “held” the Gators to 29%, but they themselves got 29% as well. X is still allowing 31.6% on the year, good for 262nd in the nation. Even that 29% is higher than the national average this year. Spoiler alert: Duke is really good on the offensive glass.
Seriously though, Xavier’s offense is elite
18th in offensive efficiency, sixth in effective field goal percentage, fourth in the nation behind the arc, 35th in the nation in offensive rebounding, 14th in non-steal turnovers, 48th in the nation inside the arc, and 49th in free throw rate. All of that adds up to an offense that would bump top ten in the nation if they could just quit throwing the ball away.
This was a big step in the resume
Beating cupcakes is great, but it’s like pie on Thanksgiving. It’s fun at the time, but it won’t fuel the body when it really matters. Likewise, no one is going to credit Xavier for beating Morgan St when Selection Sunday rolls around. Beating Florida adds some real meat (I’m done with this analogy now) to the resume. X now gets a crack at another huge win in Duke with West Virginia still waiting. Things are looking up.