We knew this was going to be a tough one before the ball was tipped. Purdue is, arguably, the best team in the nation right now, and returned the entirety of a roster that pulled a 1 seed last season. Xavier punched with the Boilermakers as much as they could, but were never able to get over the hump. There’s no doubting the effort and intensity the team brought in this game, and they refused to go quietly into the night.
The three point shooting was bad tonight. Trey Green is the opposite of shy on the court and put up 9 threes tonight, with the only downside to his game being that only two of them went in. Quincy Olivari was a the victim of a few unlucky bounces and was unable to get one to fall on five attempts. The team line of 7-25 (28%) is head turning for all the wrong reasons. The game plan was clearly to run, and get quick shots, and, unfortunately, X couldn’t knock enough deep ones down to close the gap.
While the shooting was poor, ball security and rebounding were solid. X assisted on 50% of their made buckets, and limited the turnovers to 10 on the night. Des Claude had a first half to forget, as he already coughed the ball up 4 times before the break. X also kept Purdue’s bigs off the glass very nicely, allowing only five offensive boards on the night. Gytis Nemeiksa was, as always, up for the challenge and led X with 7 boards. He and Ciani have shown a knack for getting to the ball, and either ending possessions defensively, or getting second chances on offense.
While X did take a double-digit loss, they were far from getting run off the floor. They suffered through a poor shooting night on the road against one of the best teams in the country. With a young team, in a hostile environment, and a new roster facing their first real test, this could have gotten really ugly. Xavier stuck with it, and kept scrapping back into the game. The execution may not have been of the highest quality, but it was far from a trip to Villanova circa 2015. There is no such thing as a good loss, obviously, but it looks like the Muskies showed they could play with the big boys.