X Drops Road Game at UConn
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier could not recover from a late 1st half swoon and lost 72-61 at #24 UConn Saturday afternoon. Muskies trailed just 30-25 heading into the final 1st half 4 minute war despite less than stellar shooting and a sizeable rebounding deficit. Adam Kunkel was a bright spot off the bench. Nate Johnson DNP(sore knee). UConn owned the final 3:55 though-outscoring XU 14-2(0nly two made FTS for Xavier). BIG Adama Sanogo just dominated(15 1st half points on 7-10 FGs w/ 6 rebounds and Tyler Polley killed XU w/ 8 bench points. X looked listless and outclassed, down 44-27 at the break - pounded on the glass(21-12)-punked for 7 offensive rebounds and 10 2nd chance points-while shooting just 35% FG. UConn managed 8 more shoots. It was UGLY.(down 17).
UConn looked fat and happy on the TV cut away just before the 2nd half. XU came out breathing fire-blanketing Sanogo-forcing turnovers-attacking the rim.Muskies still trailed by 16(49-33) when UConn PG R.J. Cole picked up foul #3. Coach Danny Hurley took Cole out and UConn melted down. Turnovers multiplied.
X got running off the live ball errors. Cole was tossed back in and Muskies kept punching-cutting the UConn lead to 52-48. Cole finally took control and basket trading ensued. X continued w/ effort and hustle. W/ 3:55 left the game was within reach.61-56 UConn.
Muskies then went ice cold-5 straight FG misses and made some rushed decisions. Lefty Cole jammed the ball to the rim late in shot clocks and made circus lay-ups. UConn snuck the critical FTs and it was ball game over 72-61. 30 decent minutes is not enough vs a Top 25 NCAA bound group like UConn especially at their sold-out on-campus snake pit. The only good thing about Gampel Pavilion in Storrs is Bob Staak's plaque in the UConn Hall of Fame.
X did flip the switch like a Creighton (down 19( but could not finish the deal. UConn won paint battles even in 2nd half when X needed one and done defensive stops. Bench scoring favored UConn (23-17).Polley had 16 including 5 FTs late. X could not control Cole's drives.
XU falls into a 6th place BE tie w/ St Johns at 7-8. Seton Hall can make it a 3 way w/ a home win over DePaul Saturday night( 8 PM-FS1). Scarmbling for some good news! XU will get back a 6th NET win if Marquette can upset Creighton in Omaha Sunday( 3 PM EST-FS1). MU moves back into NET Top 30 w/ that win.
Muskies play at BE leader Providence Wednesday (7PM-CBSSN). Hopefully, Nate Johnson can play and XU can at least stay close early? Muskies NET should stay well inside Top 30 despite the Quad 1 loss at UConn. NCAA Selection Committee released its TOP 16 NCAA Tourney teams w/ 3 weeks and a day left until Selection Sunday. Villanova is a 3 Seed. Providence is a 4 Seed.