Xavier’s TBT team is comprised of fan favorites and cult heroes of teams gone by. In this brief series we are going to focus on the moment that encapsulates that players career. This won’t necessarily be the guy’s best game or his biggest scoring output, but it will be the one (we think) that demonstrates what he meant to the program or the one that everyone will remember. Feel free to disagree in the comments and on Twitter.
Sometimes you’ve gotta get creative to solve a problem. The obstacle that won’t let you around or over can be tunneled through. The opponent that can’t be defeated or bargained with can be flummoxed and confused. The third analogy to make this sequence feel complete can be ignored if you can’t come up with a good one.
Sometimes the obvious answer is obvious for a reason.
The 2017 season wasn’t going as planned for Xavier when they hit the Big East Tournament. They seemed to be building to something special through the early and middle portions of the season, sitting at a solid 15-6 with all 6 of their losses coming in KenPom Tier A games. It all took a hard left turn when they lost Ed Sumner through injury at the end of January. From that point on, they beat Seton Hall and Creighton by a combined 4 points and laid a perfunctory beatdown on DePaul before the wheels came all the way off. A six-game conference losing streak later, they came into their second game of the Big East Tournament having gone 3-6 in their last 9 with all 3 wins coming against a hapless DePaul squad. It was brutal.
Their opponent in the BET was Butler, led at that time by head coach Chris Holtmann. The Bulldogs were 23-7 at the time and had beaten Xavier twice already that year. The would go on to earn a 4 seed in the tournament and make a run to the Sweet 16. The good news was that beating Butler would probably get Xavier off the bubble. The bad news was that Butler was actually good and a loss - while understandable - would have Xavier fans sweating out Selection Sunday.
The Muskies played like a team with its back to the wall and also like a team you would understand being in that position. Their defensive intensity was high and they held Butler under a point per possession, but they also had a stretch of 8 possessions in which they turned it over 7 times and they gave up a 15-4 second-half run that could have broken a less determined team. At one point down to their last 11% of win prob on KenPom (down 7 at the under-8 media timeout), they clawed back. Less than two minutes later, a Malcolm Bernard three tied the game.
The teams exchanged punches - mostly in the form of free throws - for the next 5 minutes until Kamar Baldwin split a pair of FTs to tie the game at 57 with 35 seconds left. Xavier called timeout. The question was who would get the ball with the game on the line. Sometimes the obvious answer is obvious for a reason.
Q dribbled from the top to slide the ball to Tre on the left wing. The footwork that launched a thousand mid-range jumpers now had Andrew Chrabascz on an island. The process was almost perfunctory; the outcome was never in doubt. Tre shifted, stopped, started, hesitated, leaned in and then back out again. Chrabascz was in a blender. Suddenly Tre had the window he needed. It was, in the words of Gus Johnson on the call, “pure!”
In the words of Trevon on his way back to the huddle, “He can’t hold me.” Wielding his jump shot like a scalpel, Trevon cut the heart out of Butler and opened the door for the Muskies to make one of their most magical tournament runs to date.