Muskies Produce Road Clunker at 'Nova!!!!
By Andy Mac Williams, 1/11/2017

Chris Mack labeled Tuesday night's 79-54 Muskie loss to #3 Villanova "Our annual Philadelphia ass kicking" and I can't disagree!! Things did start well for XU. They won the first two 4 minute wars and sort of broke even on the third-leading 12-7-then 21-16 and 22-16. The Xavier high water mark was 24-16 (plus 8) about 12 minutes into the game. The rest of the night devolved into a horror show. VU ended the first half on an 18-4 run to lead 34-28 at the break and then kicked it into overdrive for the walk away-walk over win.

Why the Muskie meltdown?? Things started so well. J.P.Macura scored the first two buckets (5-0 XU lead). Then he was tagged with two barely touch fouls. His mojo had to sit the bench. X continued to prosper though. The packline defense switched ball screens. Three pointers bombed in (5 for the first 10). X dominated inside. The Muskies handled the VU press.

ANATOMY OF A MELTDOWN!!!!

Give Villanova all the credit!! Coach Jay Wright berated his troops re lack of toughness. The Wildcats cranked up the defense. XU abandoned the post game after two ticky tacky calls against Rashid Gaston. Xavier settled for contested threes off no inside action and shot 1-22 from long range the rest of the evening.The VU press netted turnovers-lay-ups and dunks. XU reacted poorly to the adversity after the good start while Villanova adjusted and grabbed momentum.

This is nothing new. Xavier hasn't come close in 4 games at the Pavilion (0-4) average margin of loss about 22 points. Villanova's 20-0 in New Big East home games at their antique on-campus arena over 4 seasons. The only place to beat them is downtown (Wells Fargo) or on the road. At least next season they'll move to the Palestra or have to schedule Xavier in the big arena as the Pavilion undergoes a major make over.

Bottom line-VU is a great sustained program. XU won a couple early wars Tuesday but lost focus and then tried to shoot themselves out of trouble instead of staying with the game plan. Nova went in the opposite direction-slow start to fast finish.

ANY POSITIVES???

Sean O'Mara thrived inside (6 points-6 rebounds in 13 minutes). Myles Davis played significant minutes. He missed 4 make able shots, but guarded Josh Hart well and showed a heady floor game. I never expected Myles to play this early in his comeback. He can be a winning contributor as soon as Saturday (2PM-FS1) at Butler. XU did win the rebound stat 34-33 for what that's worth??

Road clunkers are going to happen in the Big East. XU lost badly not only at Villanova last season but at Creighton and at Seton Hall. The trick is to live and learn and bounce back immediately like Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse. I'm visiting my new grandson in Seattle. After I watch Butler at Creighton Wednesday evening, I'll post a Xavier-Butler Scouting Report.




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