By Andy Mac Williams, 1/7/2019

The potential certainly was there for an ugly trip to Milwaukee and that's what happened Sunday afternoon in the Muskies' 70-52 defeat by Marquette. MU came in 10-0 at home-nationally ranked(#16 in AP) and smarting after an 89-69 loss at St Johns New Year's Night. Neither team ran smooth offense early maybe because the game started at 11AM CST. X certainly looked like they were shooting on unfamiliar rims. They did not have a Saturday evening shoot around at new Fiserv Forum because of a Milwaukee Bucks game. The hoop is still 10 feet off the floor though. Xavier got some great looks throughout the game, but it seemed like they were dealing with a force field around the rim.

X trailed 35-26 at the break after being down by as many as 17. The Muskie shooting numbers were brutal(0-7 from three 10-18 from the FT line with 2 missed front ends) plus they coughed up 8 turnovers in a basically half court game.

The defense was decent. MU star Markus Howard did not go off. Sam Hauser got into immediate foul trouble. It was Sacar Anim who hurt Xavier BIG TIME with 14 points. X attacked the basket and got to the FT line, but failed to cash in.

Zach Hankins got into quick foul trouble and struggled to get on the floor(12 minutes-3 points-after dropping 20 against Seton Hall). PG Quentin Gooden had problems getting anything done. Maybe he expended all his energy guarding Howard? Maybe Anim locked him up defensively?

Scruggs was impactful as the prime ball handler(17 points-10 rebounds). Q needs to return to form Wednesday at Cintas against Georgetown(6:30 Tip-FS1).

This Muskie team needs solid play from all four of the core four( Gooden,Scruggs, Naji Marshall and Tyrique Jones) to win in the BIG EAST. The effort was there for XU forcing 12 Marquette turnovers-locking up Howard until the final 10 minutes when he banged in several threes in transition and finished with 26 points.

X controlled tempo mostly and kept the game muddyied up and primarily half court. MU is now 11-0 at home ,but they averaged 85PPG in their first 10 victories. I'm searching and reaching for positives!! Xavier's lack of depth is a consistent problem.

Elias Harden and Keonte Kennedy got more PT, but did not contribute significantly. Starter Kyle Castlin came out with energy, but missed two early shoots and went to the bench. Marquette marked Ryan Welage well at the three point arc and he managed to make just 1 of 3 long shots.

Give Naji Marshall credit!! He played all 40 minutes hard(21 points-7 rebounds). Xavier has road troubles(1-3 away-losses at UC, Mizzou and now Marquette) scoring 47-56 and 52 in those 3 defeats and losing by about 16PPG.

The road win at DePaul(74-56) is a plus obviously. DU is not chopped liver. They held on Sunday in Chicago to beat Seton Hall 74-74. The Muskies have one BIG EAST home stumble already(80-70 Cintas Loss to Seton Hall).

X is now 1-2 in the BE with 3 of the next 4 in Cincinnati(Georgetown-Butler-Providence). The offense was borderline brutal at Marquette. The defense was decent. The effort was there. Poor shooting makes any team look impotent(1-14 from three and 17-26 from the foul line certainly qualifies as ugly).

Home cooking should help Wednesday against G-town.

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