By Andy Mac Williams, 1/24/2019

We thought Xavier had stopped the bleeding on the turnover front totaling just 21 TOs in Cintas wins over Georgetown and Butler and the 10 point loss at Villanova(3 games). Alas, loose ballhandling and poor decision making resurfaced in spades Wednesday in a 64-62 home loss to Providence. PGs Gooden and Scruggs combined for 11 errors. X staged another stirring comeback effort-down 62-52 with 3:44 left. The Muskies slapped on the press and outscored PC 10-2 to the wire. Amazingly, XU squeezed 3 turnovers into that desperate run. They had 3 chances to tie or go ahead in the last 20 seconds, but no dice.

Paul Scruggs missed a pull up 15 footer at the buzzer that would have forced OT. Xavier trailed by 7 at the half missing a ton of shots around the rim. PC lost the overall rebound battle 34-30, but won the war on the offensive glass 14-10.

Offensive rebounds usually result in easy stick back buckets or in today's spread the floor game spray out passes to open three point shooters. PC got both.

Bench points hurt. The Friars played 10 guys and got 30 sub points. X got just 11 points with only Gooden and Ryan Welage playing significant minutes. The Muskie lack of depth is just a TEAM 97 reality.

Providence managed 9 more shots-certainly a function of the XU turnovers and empty possessions. X did not handle the PC changing defenses very well(evidence their 11 steals).

Travis Steele was forced to play zone almost exclusively after Naji Marshall's 3rd foul(brutal call-no possession-loosed ball going out of bounds-two players pursuing-should have been "no call" and Xavier ball). Pack line is XU's base defense. PC figured out the zone.

It was not Naji's night!! He had played 4 straight full 40 minute games. Vs PC because of fouls he managed just 26. Marshall had a lay-up taken away in the final run. The foul was ruled "on the floor". NBA style continuations are usually allowed in those late game spurts especially on your home floor!! It was close, but most zebras count the basket and put Naji at the FT line for a 3 point play?? Down one point vs down two(Marshall converted the one and one) makes things different on the final two possessions.

Officials were not to blame for the loss. They certainly did not help! How does a BIG RUGGED TRAPPING BUMPING team like PC go 13 minutes into the first half without fouling?

X was 6-6 from the foul line(100%-Wow!!) and waaaay below their normal number of FT attempts. One Muskie had a good night-Kyle Castlin hauled down 10 rebounds and played his usual mistake-free defense. Just wish he would shoot it more.


“No excuses" " very disappointed in our team" "we gotta grow up and get better" "the turnovers were on us" "the offense is unacceptable" "it's frustrating" "I just ask them to play like we practice"


Eight of ten BIG EAST teams have 4 losses(log jam below Villanova at 6-0 and Marquette at 6-1). Xavier is in a five way tie(that includes beans and onions) for third with Butler, St Johns, Seton Hall and DePaul at 3-4. Georgetown and Creighton are a half game back at 2-4.

Four or five BIG East teams will be getting NCAA bids. Give Villanova and Marquette the obvious inside track for two and that leaves 8 teams in a wild cattle drive gold rush for 2 or 3 at large NCAA berths.

10 BIG EAST wins is the magic number. X has a path to 10 "Ws, but the loss to PC makes it harder. The Muskies are now 2-2 at home. They would have to beat #12 Marquette Saturday afternoon and #18 Villanova later in February plus DePaul, Creighton and St Johns to run the table and go 7-2 at Cintas. That means 3-6 on the road.

X is 1-2 so far away in the BIG EAST and 1-4 overall away from Victory Parkway. Doable, but a big order!! ONE STEP AT A TIME!!

Marquette is at Cintas Saturday afternoon(2PM Tip-FS1). MU is 17-3, 6-1 in the BIG EAST and on a 6 game winning streak. The Golden Eagles drilled Xavier 70-52 in Milwaukee on January 6th. MU is 14-0 in Milwaukee and 3-3 everywhere else.

They lost their BIG EAST opener 89-69 at St Johns-needed OT and a 53 point game from Marcus Howard to beat Creighton 106-104 in Omaha and struggled to get by Georgetown in DC 74-71 when Howard went down early with back spasms.

MU is deep slick shooting and flying high. They are not at home. X needs a Top 50 NET win badly. Opportunity knocks.

Right after the XU-MU game Saturday afternoon Brad Redford and I host a new POSTGAME event at the Traditions Club in Cintas Center(third level-down one flight of stairs from the main concourse.

We discuss the game-listen in to Travis Steele's comments-Do Q and A- give aways- prizes etc. It's a work in progress. Everybody is invited. Food and drink will be available. Hope to see you Saturday just after 4PM!!

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