Andy Mac: Opportunity Slips Away for at Villanova
Andy Mac Williams,
First off-Merry Christmas to those who read my stuff! We'll keep it brief! Xavier's cursed trips to Philadelphia continued Tuesday night w/ a nasty 71-58 loss to Villanova at the band box Pavilion. Muskies are now 0-8 in new BIG EAST games vs Nova in Philly. Not unexpected! VU has now won 28 in a row on campus-dating back over 3 years. Only Butler has beaten Villanova at the Pavilion since 2014. Too many games to count! Too much frustration. XU teased us with a sharp shooting 1st half and a 38-30 lead at the break (6-9 from "3" and 6-6 FTs) with low turnovers and a solid rebounding advantage. Nova's defense was a step slow and X knocked down the open shots.
Give VU credit. They roared out of the locker room and reeled in Xavier quickly. X succumbed to a bevy of empty possessions and ugly turnovers. The guards failed to deliver the rock to the BIGS and forgot to drive to the hoop-settling for aimless perimeter passing and settling for contested 3 pointers (0-14 in 2nd half).
Nova was the tougher, harder working team. X did not capitalize on their assumed size and depth edges - not getting to the FT line, not grabbing offensive rebounds. VU played 6 guys and finished stronger with a 14-3 run over the final 3:35-turning a tight game into a late blow out.
Dwon Odom played a strong game (13 points on 6-8 FGs and 2 assists) following up his BIG EAST Player of the Week performance (19 points vs Marquette). Nate Johnson added 12 points.
The Xavier "D" was bullied by VU drivers and post guys yielding 40 points in the paint. Not a great way to head into a brief Christmas Break! Again, not unexpected considering Villanova's track record at home. And we find out Wildcat Coach Jay Wright was born on Christmas Day (probably near Bethlehem, PA.).
Muskies are 11-2 with a Top 20 NET (3-2 in NET Quad 1 games), but that 2nd half wasn't up to snuff. 57-55 Villanova with 3:35 left - you expect it goes down to the wire?
The import of next Tuesday's game at Cintas is obvious (7PM-FS1). XU is now 1-1 in BIG EAST. So is UConn after winning Tuesday at Marquette 78-70.
Both PC and Creighton are 2-0 BE after picking up gift forfeit wins because of COVID. X needs that home win over UConn because they begin the New Year with road games at Georgetown and at Butler.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I'll resume coverage next Monday with a UConn Preview after consuming copious quantities of egg nog!!