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Takeaways from a tougher than it needed to be win over Seton Hall

Xavier fought and fought and finally came away with a very tough win. Thank God for Zach Freemantle.

Seton Hall v Xavier
These two got the job done for X tonight.
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The problem with Q3 conference games is that Seton Hall isn’t going to go anywhere and just roll over. The Pirates came to the Cintas tonight and took their best shot at the Musketeers. Shaheen Holloway had a plan, his team played some great defense, and Xavier shot like they thought it was still 2021. Ultimately Xavier still won, and that’s what matters from a resume standpoint. Looking beyond that though: yikes.

Zach is back

Xavier needed Zach Freemantle to play like he did prior to last year. So far, he has. Big Frosty went for 23/9/3 and was just about the only Musketeer to be consistently good this game. Seton Hall has some good interior defenders, but Freemantle didn’t let that bother him as he went 9-15 inside the arc. More importantly, he never looked petulant, lazy, or apathetic. He was plugged in and that’s why Xavier won this game.

Desmond Claude is heading for Tandyland

While that sounds like a fun place to be, it really isn’t Kyky Tandy is so buried on the bench that Adam Kunkel going 2-9, Souley Boum playing a half with foul trouble, and no Xavier guard being able to defend anyone still couldn’t get him in the game. Claude got some early minutes and used them to give up a layup, foul a jump shooter, and turn the ball over twice. It’s very clear that Coach Miller does not rate his freshmen, but the options elsewhere are limited.

This is the Jerome Hunter we thought we were getting

What a dog this Jerome Hunter is. I like him a lot more than the guy with the same name we had last year. With Jerome’s evil three point shooting twin having fled the scene, this Jerome Hunter is free to come in, flash a midrange jumper, attack the glass like a maniac, play great defense, and hoover up second chance points. He’s a glue guy that somewhat calls to mind Andre Walker. Hunter has an efficiency rating of 123, rebounding rates of over 14% on each end, and has attempted one three pointer. He knows what dude he is.

Xavier made the little winning plays

Jack Nunge and Adam Kunkel were awful tonight. But, when Xavier needed them, they answered. Kunkel hit a huge three pointer that a less confident man would have let being 0-6 before that shot stop him from taking. With 54 seconds left, Nunge tipped, tipped, and tipped again a Colby Jones miss until he finally ran it down in the corner. Throw in Jones making a great stop against Kadary Richmond when Seton Hall have the chance to win and it adds up to Xavier surviving.

Colby Jones is special

Take a guess at Colby Jones line tonight. He seemed quiet, right? Nope, he had 16/7/6 on 6-11 from the floor. Colby just accumulates stats by getting himself where he needs to be time and again. That speaks to both his acumen and the hard work it takes to put that knowledge on the floor when it matters. Jones was the KenPom MVP without ever taking the ball over or trying to do to much. He’s just consistent excellence.

Once again, coaching pays off

When it came down to it at the end, Shaheen Holloway needed to get his big gun the ball. Coach Miller needed to get his best (only) on ball defender on that guy. Ultimately, Colby Jones had time and space to contest Kadary Richmond hard and Seton Hall couldn’t find away to get Richmond free. Holloway may go on to be a great coach, but tonight he basically told his guy to try to beat one of the Big East’s best defenders and then didn’t give him any help. When Xavier needed to break a 59 point tie, Coach Miller put his players into an action that meant Colby Jones had a free run for what may be the easiest dunk of his career. The little things matter.