MUSKIES STRUGGLE LATE IN DC!! LOSE 80-73 TO GEORGETOWN!!
Andy Mac Williams,
Things started so well for Xavier Thursday evening on the road. They led 9-0 and Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing was forced to call a time-out. X controlled tempo-playing half court-pounding the ball inside. The young Hoya guards Akinjo and Mc Clung looked lost. GU was not getting the ball to primo BIG Jessie Govan. Almost 13 minutes in the Muskies led 21-11 and G-town was teetering on oblivion. The body language stunk. They seemed confused and out of sorts. Zach Hankins blocked a Govan shot-well done!! X took off in transition. Hankins apparently said something to Govan. Technical foul!! Two G-town FTS!! X misses two foul shots on the next trip and a 12 point game becomes an 8 point game. X led 36-28 at the half, but considering rebound domination and close-in scoring chances etc Xavier shoulda been up by 15 points.
Give Georgetown credit! They recalibrated at half time. After going 0-8 from three, they hit 8 of their next 10 from long range. James Akinjo did not score before the half. He totaled 23 points thereafter. Govan woke up and became a post threat. X tried to keep up with GU in a three ball fire fight instead of attacking the rim.
The Muskies turned it over 10 times in half two with 3 TOs and 4 empty possessions over the final 2:30 when GU held just a 73-70 lead. It's been the same story in January(2-6 record-current 4 game losing streak-0-3 on the road). X plays hard. They are competitive, but they lack depth which leads to late game fatigue and mistakes.
The three ball gap is a killer(about a 10 point deficit/game from long range). The void in the Freshman class is glaring-understandable because of the coaching change, but pretty stark in the BIG EAST where most everybody else has multiple talented contributing Frosh.
Versus Georgetown their frosh Akinjo-Mc Clung and LeBlanc scored 50 and ate up a ton of minutes. X got nothing from their frosh. Flip in new guys to be fair! GU still outscored XU 50-19 when we add grad transfers Hankins, Castlin and Welage.
We've said this before. The cavalry is coming over the hill for the Muskies consisting of a dynamic 5 man recruiting group and possibly multiple other new pieces The new guys will not arrive until the summer though. X has enough talent to win now, but not when they get outscored 16 to 7 in made FTs and can't convert 12 offensive rebounds into any more than 16 points around the rim. The loss at Villanova-the home defeats to PC and Marquette and now this road loss at G-town were all winnable. Xavier led for large chunks of all 4 games.
11-11 is not what Muskie fans are used to. 3-6 in the BIG EAST tied for 8th with Butler and DePaul is strange territory. 1-5 in true road games and 2-7 away from Victory Parkway is unusual, but not unprecedented. Xavier sat 11-10 before their Run to the Elite 8 in 2004.
Sean Miller's first team(2004-2005) finished 17-12 with no postseason in the Atlantic 10. Miller's 2nd team needed a miracle 4 win run in the A-10 Tourney to make the NCAA. Chris Mack's 4th team went 17-14 in the wake of the Shootout Fight and Dez Wells' departure still in the A-10.
BIG EAST affiliation netted the 2013-2014 Muskies an NCAA First Four trip to Dayton despite a 21-13 record. Two years ago X lost 6 straight in February and again from the BIG EAST platform squeaked into the NCAAs and then fought into the Elite 8. It's not ideal right now. 9 regular season BIG EAST games remain plus the BE Tourney in NYC. X is one game out of 3rd place at 3-6(G-town, St Johns, Seton Hall tied for 3rd at 4-5).
Four BIG EAST teams maybe Five are making the NCAA field of 68. 10 BIG EAST regular season wins and you're in the Dance(IMHO). 9-9 and maybe you need to win two games at MSG? We know Villanova and Marquette are probably in the NCAA. Other than that it's an 8 team BE scramble-a Royal Rumble- for 2 or 3 spots. A win Sunday afternoon vs Creighton in Omaha would be a good idea. Turn the page on a 2-6 January and make it a stretch run to rival 2004 and 2017.