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A trend worth watching

Dayvion McKnight has been something of a bellwether for Xavier so far this year.

NCAA Basketball: Oakland at Xavier Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Dayvion McKnight’s first season at Xavier isn’t going how he wanted it to. McKnight has been away from the team for some time this week to attend the funeral of his older brother, Trey, who passed away unexpectedly at home. That is more than enough to throw a young man out of his comfort level.

On the court, thought, McKnight has been excellent. He’s averaging 7.3/4.6/5.3 and shooting 45% from the floor. He’s a locked in starter in Coach Miller’s rotation and playing 29.7 minutes per game, second on the team. He’s also become a reliable indicator in how a game will go for Xavier.

In Xavier’s four wins, McKnight is averaging 9.2/5.2/5.2. More importantly, he’s only missed 11 shots in those four games and is 5-7 from the line. In the toughest of those games, St. Mary’s, McKnight played 31 minutes, turned the ball over once, and went for 14/5/4 for an offensive rating of 136. His slashing and ability to knock down a midrange shot make him a unique threat in Sean Miller’s offense. More importantly, they open the floor up for the rest of the team, something reflected in McKnight’s 29.2% assist rate.

Unfortunately, the contrapositive is always true. When McKnight struggles, Xavier loses. In the three games X has lost, Dayvion averages 4.6/3.6/5.3. Both his rebounding and scoring numbers take a serious drop. It’s his shooting, though, that really dips. In Xavier’s three losses, McKnight has missed 16 shots and not made a single three. Even more troubling, he’s yet to make a free throw in a Xavier loss.

So, what does that actually mean? For starters, McKnight can create offense even when his shot isn’t going. He has a knack for finding the open man. Somewhat oddly, he’s shooting a full 13.1% lower at the rim than he is from the midrange. In Xavier’s losses McKnight is 2-8 at the rim. When he’s not finishing at the rim he doesn’t draw fouls, hence the no made free throws in Xavier losses.

For Xavier’s offense to be effective, Dayvion McKnight’s somewhat unorthodox style needs to work. For it to work, he needs to finish on the drive to open up his midrange game. When that happens, good things happen for the Musketeers.