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Xavier 90-87 Creighton: Takeaways from an incredible game

Xavier weathered every Creighton run and then responded with a knockout blow to win a massive Big East Q1 tilt.

Creighton v Xavier
A wolf in wolf’s clothing
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Oh, Baylor Scheierman, with your punchable face on a Lego man’s head, when things are going really well you must imagine having 32 minutes of game like you did tonight against Xavier. Oh, Baylor, though, those last eight minutes must haunt you. Sometimes being the very poor man’s Mike Daum means you meet the same fate Mike Daum himself met here this summer at the hands of JP Macura. At least Daum didn’t urinate down his own leg at winning time, though.

For 30 minutes Xavier struggled with Baylor Scheierman. Then, in a timeout, Sean Miller put his hand on Colby Jones’ shoulder and told him, “Colby I know you’re tired, but you have to take 55.” From that point on Scheierman was 0-6 from the floor with a foul and a turnover. With the score tied at 70 he ducked a screen and lost Jones for a three, he then missed a forced three that Jones contested, then gotten broken off by Des Claude. That quickly Xavier’s scalpel sharp offense finished off a 16-3 run and sortied to a lead they would not relinquish. Scheierman kept shooting, but the real killers had come to play.

Souley Boum... Wow.

Coach Miller compared Boum to Tu Holloway tonight. 26/5/8 and nails from the line down the stretch will earn you that very highest of praise. Boum most Holloway of moves came when he got his dribble deep in the lane the lane and flipped a high scoop so far up off the glass that even Ryan Kalkbrenner (man, is he good) could just watch it kiss and fall through. Boum hunted the ball late, hunted his shot late, and grabbed the game by the neck and wouldn’t let it go. He’s a killer.

Coach Miller put his cards on the table

In a game played at an absolutely frenetic pace, Sean Miller quit pretending and just went with seven guys. Three of his five starters played over 30 minutes, Freemantle played 28, everyone else was over 20. Remember when it was a legitimate concern how many minutes Jack Nunge could play? He played 30 tonight and horked down eight offensive boards as Xavier brutalized Creighton on the glass. Kyky Tandy had played in 14 of 16 coming in, he didn’t appear. No one except the front seven did. Xavier isn’t deep, and they didn’t even try to be tonight.

The bench was excellent

Jerome Hunter went for 10 in the first half and was in his bag for a bit there. It took him a couple possessions to figure it out, but eventually he sorted how he wanted to attack Kalkbrenner and he went and did it. He also drilled a three pointer in part of what was the greatest subplot of the game. Creighton walked away from Hunter on the arc and every time you could almost see the angel on one shoulder and the demon on the other yelling into Hunter’s ears. He took two, he made one. He was excellent again.

Desmond Claude isn’t as polished as Hunter on offense (imagine saying that a year ago), but his defense tonight was fantastic. When that goofy dude with the horrible hair wasn’t being shut down by Colby Jones, it was because he had Des chasing him everywhere. Claude also sat Creighton’s self-proclaimed hero down to stick a huge jumper. He’s a raw talent, but tonight he showed that there is definitely defensive diamond showing through the offensive coal.

Greg McDermott had an off night

Getting outcoached by Sean Miller isn’t really something to lose sleep over, but McDermott may spend some of the trip back to Omaha pondering why the nation’s fifth most efficient player and second best shot maker shot eight times while Scheierman and Ryan Nembhard, who wasn’t good tonight regardless of what Bill Raftery thought, combined to shoot 35. Xavier never really developed an answer to Kalkbrenner, but Creighton never really forced them to. Nunge and Freemantle kept fronting their hearts out and only once did the Jays throw the ball over the top. Xavier gambled that Creighton couldn’t shoot well enough long enough to force them out of their post strategy and it just about paid off.

Souley Boum played 39 minutes and didn’t turn it over

Colby Jones is a quiet warrior

If you had asked me after the game but before I looked at a box score how many points I thought Colby Jones had I would have told you that he had eight or 10 and didn’t hunt his shot. Xavier’s junior forward is so smooth that he can put up 20/4/3 on 15 shots and feel like he’s just gliding along out there. Tonight he was simply too quick on offense and he was committed to getting to the rim. If he could eliminate the silly turnovers, like the one where he had Kalkbrenner man up, dribbled out to 26 feet, then picked up his dribble, he’d be even more efficient. Instead we’ll have to settle for an offensive efficiency of 118 and a three point percentage of 44.7%. I guess that’s ok.

Good wins are so much better than “good losses”

When Xavier was struggling to finish games early in the season some of the fanbase ran to the cold, inaccurate comfort of the good loss. There is no such thing. You know what is good, though? Beating a top 20 KenPom team. Beating the #26 team in the NET to go to 3-3 in quad one games is also rather nice. Moral victories are for people who don’t win. Actual victories, 10 of them in a row now, are for the Xavier Musketeers.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 11 Creighton at Xavier
Too late, Baylor. You just got broken off live on television.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images