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Friday thoughts as DePaul roulette spins

Saturday is must not lose, but that’s not the only thing to talk about this weekend

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

“Must win” sounds like a big game against a serious opponent. Make no mistake, Xavier has to win on Saturday if they want to have any chance of going to the NCAA tournament, but “must win” sounds like a week 17 NFL showdown. This game is far more “must not lose.” Winning doesn’t add anything to Xavier’s resume, in fact their computer numbers will go down regardless of the outcome in Chicago, but a loss would render the rest of the season nothing more than a warmup for the Big East Tournament.

Des Claude

In the last ten minutes of the game on Wednesday Xavier had a lot of guys chip in. Quincy Olivari stole the headlines, Dayvion McKnight drove the dagger, but Des Claude quietly did his thing as well. He had seven straight for X earlier in the half as St. John’s came back, but then went a little quiet. As Xavier tried to put the game back away, he had 7/1/1 to go with a steal. He also drained 11-12 to bring him to 77% on the year and 84.7% in conference play. His offensive efficiency is up over 16 points from his freshman year. While his shooting hasn’t been great, he’s elite at caring for the ball and getting to the line. He put up 23/3/3 on Wednesday and won’t have garnered a single headline.

Sean Miller makes a difference

How on earth do you get your team to come back after a 43 point loss? Apparently you project calm, put out great content on your Twitter, and make absolutely ferocious eye contact in huddles. As the world collapsed on Sunday, Coach Miller stood with arms crossed. When it came time to grab a season saving win on Wednesday, he responded just like any other game. Xavier responded to a game they had to have by coming out of both halves ready to go. That’s the difference an elite coach makes.

Cousy Award finalists

Quick, name the most efficient point guard in the Big East. Is it media darling Tyler Kolek? Nope. What about scoring phenom Daniss Jenkins? No. How about do it all Tristen Newton? No. As you may have guessed, it’s Dayvion McKnight. In Big East play his offensive efficiency is 128.9, good for third in the conference as a point guard. That’s phenomenal. He basically never turns the ball over, is top 150 in the nation in assist rate, and is the second best three point shooter in Big East play. He’s not a Cousy Award finalist, though, because he just quietly does his thing. An unsung hero, indeed.

We’ll have the preview for tomorrow’s absurdly late game out tomorrow. DePaul is averaging a 24 point loss in Big East play. Xavier doesn’t have to do that, but they absolutely cannot lose.