X Falls at Home to Seton Hall
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier's late season struggles continued Saturday with an ugly 82-66 home loss to Seton Hall. That's 4 straight defeats for XU(all without injured guard Nate Johnson) and 6 "Ls" in the last 7 games. Muskies still own a sub 30 NCAA NET but their NCAA equity for an at large bid to the field of 68 is being used up. At 17-11 overall and just 7-10 in BIG EAST(slipping to 8th place-behind Seton Hall at 9-8 and St Johns at 7-9), it's urgent "GO" time for Xavier w/ just two regular season games left( Wed. at St Johns-6:30 FS! and Saturday at Cintas vs Georgetown 7PM-FS1).
St Johns by the way plays at DePaul Sunday-5PM-FS1. Muskies shot themselves in the foot repeatedly w/ a flurry of missed FTS(13-23 overall w/ two missed front ends)-14 turnovers leading to 17 SHU gift points and crucially-crappy defense(half court-on the ball and transition). Seton Hall got any shot they wanted after 3 or 4 passes. X gave up one on one drives and fouled up switches all over the court. SHU shot 53% FG including 8-19 from "3".
Jared Rhoden scored a career high 30 after torching XU for 25 17 days ago. Wednesday PC's Jared Bynum buried X w/ 27 in that triple OT loss to Friars. Vs St Johns Julian Champagnie post 27 points. He gets another chance Wed vs Xavier this time on friendly rims in Queens.
Travis Steele was upset:
"We have to own our defense-That hasn't happened the last few games. Guys can't go for career nights against us. It's a complete joke. It's on me. We cut it to 6 (51-45 SHU w/ 12:37 left) and miss a ton of FTs and have mind blowing loud turnovers. Monday we go back to practice DAY 1 of defense. We are a pack-line defensive team. It's all about us. We need max effort within our system-get connected and execute. Zones and pressure are just band-aids."
Muskies unraveled in the final 1st half war and the opening 2nd half segment. It was 27-26 Seton Hall going into the media time-out just before halftime. Over the next 7 minutes SHU outscored XU 25-15(+1 to +11). Ball game over when Xavier could not take advantage of their FT chances. It was too little and too late.
Colby Jones posted a double-double(20 points-10 rebounds) for XU and added heady floor play and 4 assists, but Rhoden constantly posted him up and Colby seemingly got little defensive help. It's not like Rhoden is a secret?
Steele was asked about negative fan reaction in Cintas and on social media:
"I told our guys to toughen up and strap it on and let's go. We have a great passionate fans base. They want us to win. We faced some adversity. I hoped for a better response. We have to do winning things like getting back in transition and being nasty and physical-screening and talking and taking care of the ball."
IMHO wins at St Johns and home vs Georgetown clinch an NCAA berth for Xavier. 19-11 going into BET at MSG should be more than good enough. Odds are Muskies add a 6th NET Quad 1 win when Marquette returns to NET Top 30. MU beat Butler Saturday 64-56. They are at DePaul and home to St Johns next week.
Can X suck it up for a win over St Johns Wednesday at Carnesseca Arena in Queens? The Johnnies blitzed Muskies at Cintas 86-73 two weeks ago.
TEAM 100 has two practices to rediscover defense and get back the competitive nasty edge they showed vs Ohio State and UC and Va Tech and Marquette and Creighton(twice) and UConn.
As Travis says" "It's all about X." SO DO IT!!!