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Xavier 75-80 UConn: Another one gets away

The kings of almost winning almost won again.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Xavier
College athlete, everyone
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier will look back on this game and see yet another chance that they let go begging. If there were a column for almost winning Q1 games, Xavier’s resume would look pretty good. There isn’t, though, and instead Xavier is just 7-8, 1-3 in the Big East, and steaming toward all of us learning about whatever new rules there are in the NIT this year.

This game came down to a couple of things. First, Xavier was bad on offense in the second half. For the game in general they were a frankly hilarious 12-28 on layups. Is that worse or is shooting 9-31 for an entire half? Xavier took the lead with 15:41 to play and made five field goals the rest of the way, most of them in that furious comeback attempt that came up just short. That’s four field goals in the first 4:19, five the rest of the way.

Secondly, they did the dumb stuff again. On back to back possessions in the second half, X just flat lost someone in transition. Once, that led to a layup, the next time it led Diarra three that he looked almost surprised to be open for. That’s ignoring the adventure that Dailyn Swain went on in which he somehow found himself defending the back of the ballhandler. With X within five late, they ran away from a guy with the ball at the free throw line. Sean Miller said “they’re running harder on offense than we are on defense.” That wasn’t the case all night, but it was when it mattered.

Des Claude is really struggling

We’re not going to pile on Des, but outside his back to back threes, he went 1-10 from the floor. He also wasn’t exactly excellent on defense. His offensive efficiency for the season will likely duck under 100 after this game.

Xavier’s defense was bad most of the game

UConn scored 1.25 points per possession. That’s bad, but the incompetence that Xavier showed at the start was startling. The Huskies shot a string of layup line three pointers to start the game. Against one of the best teams in the nation you can’t afford to be slow off screens or behind shooters. Xavier was both and they went down ten early because of it. Fight all you like, that’s the recipe for a loss. And, surprise, it was one.

Xavier can’t have Quincy Olivari be anything other than incandescent

Olivari was just good today. He went for 24/7/2, but shot just 6-15. He tried late to drag the team back into it, but he couldn’t. Nemo (4-5) was the only Xavier player who really shot well and he only played 22 minutes. No one else was effective. It wasn’t the gameplan, it was just that these guys cannot finish at all.

The officiating was HORRIBLE

It didn’t have an impact on the outcome of the game, but this crew of James Breeding, Brent Hampton, Tony Henderson was hilariously bad. They never decided what they thought was a foul, they reviewed three calls for reasons known only to them, and managed to completely lose control of the last ten minutes of the first half. Lazar Djokovic capitalized on this by committing what appeared to be several crimes in snaring offensive rebounds. UConn players pushed off on offense with impunity all game long including on Tristen Newton’s game icing jumper. The refs have actually been pretty good this season. These guys should lose their jobs and possibly be put in the stocks. They were an embarrassment to the profession.

But they could probably make a layup.