Andy Mac: X Misses Opportunity at Providence
By Andy Mac Williams, 2/25/2021

Xavier TEAM 99 Update-Game 17-Muskies missed a HUGE opportunity re securing an NCAA Tourney bid and gaining a 1st Round BET bye-losing 83-68 Wednesday at Providence. 83 points allowed sort of says it all(1.19 points/ possession is nasty leaky defense). XU has lost 3 of 4 since coming off their 3rd COVID pause(UConn-home, at St Johns, at PC) giving up 85+PPG. Not a winning formula! Here's Travis Steele postgame.

"We made glaring mistakes allowing way too many open shots-allowing guys to get too comfortable. We've got to make them miss-not hope they miss. PC made us pay. We've got to figure this out now. I've got to teach them better and they've got to value the defensive end."

Xavier slips to 12-5 overall, 5-5 BIG EAST, 5th place w/ a mid 50s NET.

The loss at PC isn't fatal to NCAA prospects because Providence on the road is an NET Quad 2 defeat. Still Muskies are now just 3-5 NET Quad 1 and 2. Still no bad losses though(9-0 in Quad 3 and 4 games). Time is running out.

X hosts #13 Creighton Saturday at Cintas(5 PM-BIG FOX) then plays tough road games at Georgetown and Marquette to complete their COVID shortened regular season. X is in better shape than St Johns, PC and Marquette re NCAA but to hold that 5th BIG EAST spot(and gain a 1st Round BET bye in NYC) and maybe move past 4th place UConn and 3rd place Seton Hall.

Muskies gotta guard a whole lot better and win 2 or 3 before New York. Providence destroyed Xavier w/ 3 pointers(11 of 21) while X misfired from deep(3-17). That 24 point hole was just too deep to dig out of. Close-outs on 3 point shooters were too slow especially in 1st half. X trailed by 10 at the break(25-35).

2nd half fight and effort seemed better. XU cut PC's lead to 6 several times but could not string defensive stops nor knock down their open looks. Again FT shooting was sub par. X's top 3 point sniper Nate Johnson did not play(foot-leg in jury). That did not help. But bottom line Xavier just is not going to win vs talented BIG EAST teams especially away engaging in basket trading and 3 point fire fights. Hopefully, an answer can be unearthed before Creighton Saturday. That would be a NET Quad 1 victory for Muskies.

X did some good things at PC. Turnovers were manageable (8 total-below 11 goal). Rebounding was about even until the last 5 minutes when Muskies launched "3s" and PC swept the defensive board. X gave up 4 offensive rebounds( PC did shoot 53%). Zach Freemantle(24) and Paul Scruggs(22) did outscore Friars BIG TWO David Duke(18) and Nate Watson(15).

Both Duke and Watson made dagger shots though. X had to spread their defense late in desperation comeback mode and Watson destroyed them w/ pick and roll dunks. Muskie PG Dwon Odom started and played well(11 points-5 rebounds-2 assists-0 turnovers) plus he did OK man up on Duke.

Colby Jones showed grit-bashed in the nose and cut above the eye by bully ball PC. Most Frosh pull the rip cord-and go into concussion protocol. Colby kept on ticking. Nobody else did much worth mentioning.

PC extras like Noah Horchler(20 points) and Jared Bynum (10 points) stepped up and doubled their normal production. No excuses for Xavier! Unacceptable defense or lack there of.

Around BIG EAST:

Butler upset Seton Hall 61-52 at Hinkle. SHU holds onto 3rd BE(10-7). The Quad 3 loss for SHU hurts their NCAA resume'. Ironically, if XU had won at PC, Muskies(mythical 6-4) would have ascended to 3rd place(Shoulda, woulda, coulda). As Skip Prosser and Yoda used to say: "DO OR DON'T DO!! THERE IS NO TRY!!"

Shocker of the night w/ a bullet!! Marquette scheduled a HAIL MARY non-conference game 4 days ago at ACC North Carolina and MU dominated a less than focused Tar Heel team 83-70 at the Dean Dome. Quad 1 win for Wojo and Marquette. They still are NCAA long shot(11-12 overall, 6-10 BE).

X has to play MU in Milwaukee March 6th. Creighton kept rolling dispatching DePaul 77-53 in Omaha. Blue Jays are 13-4 BIG EAST-2nd behind Villanova(10-2). CU has won 4 in a row. They play at Xavier Saturday(5 PM-BIG FOX). Maybe they will be looking ahead to Villanova next Wednesday in Philly? More on XU-Creighton Friday here.




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