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Xavier gets back in the win in Big East home opener

Xavier rode a hard nosed defensive performance to a much needed first conference win of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Xavier Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After a Big East opener in which almost nothing went their way, Xavier met a hot Seton Hall club coming off wins over Missouri and UConn. For their at large hopes to be anything other than hoping the committee exercises a Saint Nicholas level of charity, Xavier needed this game. Beyond needing this game from a simple binary results perspective, Xavier needed a performance that augured that this group was capable of taking on the task in front of them and carving out an NCAA Tournament worthy resume through the turbulent waters of the Big East. Against an offense that racked up 1.21 points per possession against UConn in their Big East opener, Xavier’s defense swarmed the Pirates and hassled them into a dismal offensive showing that gave Xavier the chance they needed to sort out another slow start on offense and walk away with a comfortable win.

This team goes as Quincy Olivari does.

St. John’s made it their entire defensive gameplan to make sure Quincy Olivari did not beat them and Xavier was never able to adjust. Today, Olivari eclipsed his game total against the Johnnies of 13 before halftime with 15 of his game high 29 came before the break. Olivari produced another impressive performance from beyond the arc, but was able to keep the defense honest by driving and scoring efficiently as well. He went ahead and grabbed 7 defensive rebounds on a night when Xavier struggled to hold their own on the boards as well in another performance that will continue to burnish his growing legend at Xavier.

This team has to get better in the paint

Abou Ousmane was excellent today, if not terribly efficient, going for 16/10/2 and three steals. He started off slowly but did end up at 8-14 from the floor. The rest of the bigs went for 2/8/3 in a combined 33 minutes of play. The Musketeers also went 16-37 at the rim. That is, in case you weren’t aware, really, really bad. If Seton Hall hadn’t been equally abject, this game could have gone very differently.

Someone else stepped up

We said in the preview that someone else had to jump in and do some of the heavy lifting. Obviously, Quincy Olivari was the main threat tonight and will be all year, but someone else has to help. Today, Dayvion McKnight went for 15/4/10 and was reasonably efficient doing it. Abou Ousmane’s effort has already mentioned. Xavier can be effective so long as they have more than one person carrying the load.

One person who didn’t was Des Claude. Des saw his offensive efficiency drop to 104 for the year on the back of 2-7 from the floor, 0-1 from the line and two more turnovers. For whatever reason, he just can’t seem to get things going. A good game against Winthrop and a middling one against Delaware are the best efforts he’s had this month.

The freshman class was good

2/4/2 for Dailyn Swain doesn’t leap off the page, but he was all energy, grabbed a block and a steal, and had a 150 offensive efficiency. He really had a positive impact on the game. Trey Green was electric in the way that sometimes electric powers fun things like Christmas lights and sometimes it fries you when you aren’t paying attention. Green was good with two big threes, three steals in just 14 minutes, and a couple of great assists. Green was also bad with two turnovers that defied explanation, the best (?) of which was a spin move and bullet pass directly to a waiting Seton Hall player. Hey, at least it was fun.