Xavier did not deserve to win tonight. The Musketeers looked out of sorts from the tip in this, with the main culprit being the matchup zone deployed by Oakland for the entire game. The offense has not been the calling card of the X squad thus far, but it looked like it was running in quick sand for a large majority of the evening. What about the defense that held St. Mary’s under 50, and is ranked top 20 in the KenPom? Good question, it got absolutely torched by Chris Conway and Trey Townsend. In the end, X somehow still had a shot in the air to win, and Dailyn Swain, God bless him, nearly stuck it from half court. Time for some takeaways, or whatever.
The defense was miserable
Oakland managed to shoot over 51% on the game, despite posting a 26% from 3. This largely was down to the fact that Chris Conway and Trey Townsend got any shot they wanted inside the arc. The two combined to shoot 17-24 and go for 43 of Oakland’s 78, which is not good. What was good was the performance of Dayvion McKnight to limit the three point barrage of Jack Gohlke. Without McKnight on him this would have been ugly(er).
The offense wasn’t great either
We’ll start here with the good news. Xavier shot a lot of free throws, and shot them well at a mark of 77%. They also distributed well, assisting on over 80% of made field goals, while only turning the ball over 10 times. The three point shooting was, once again, the main issue. It started well with Nemo canning threes on back to back trips, and Olivari and Green hitting shots early. Those three shot 7-14 from beyond the arc, while the rest of the squad managed to go 0-9. The shooters not being able to hit was not an issue tonight, but if they cannot get any help soon, there will be many more 30% performances from 3 to come.
This game was not fast enough
This game only logged 67 possessions, the second fewest Xavier has played this season. In this regard, this limited Xavier’s ability to run at a team that clearly wanted to set its offense and its defense. The ref show did not help the pace of play, as 42 fouls were called in a 40 minute contest. I’m not of the opinion that no fouls should have been called, but the constant touch, or in some cases not even that, fouls throwing sand in the gears of the game does not make a good product. Xavier can blame the refs, but they shouldn’t. They got outplayed by a mid-major opponent, and absolutely sonned in the paint by two guys who they allowed to look like David Robinson and Tim Duncan. There are no good losses, there are bad losses. That’s what this was.