X Falls to No. 17 Friars, Losing Second Straight
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier was done in again by a slow start (down 19-7 after the 1st two 4 minute wars-trailing 28-14 w/ 7 minutes left in 1st half) and brutal 3 point shooting (4-18 for 22%) adding up to a 65-62 Cintas Center loss to BIG EAST leader Providence (7-1). Muskies are now 3-4 in their last 7 games 4-4 in BE and 14-5 overall. Slow starts and sluggish offense have been the norm. XU has scored 68, 64 and 62 in their last 3 games. Give PC credit. They played w/ poise and patience and dictated tempo (slow and half court). Provident made their first 4 3-pointers and outscored XU 21-12 from deep).
Indiana transfer Al Durham confounded X w/ his drives(22 points-10-10 FTS). PG Jared Bynum added 16 and nailed the winning "3" w/ 1.8 seconds left after Paul Scruggs ad his driving lefty lay-up rim out w/ the game tied 62-62. Xavier expended mega-energy climbing out of their early hole.
Muskies took a 62-60 lead on Scruggs wing "3" w/ 50-.6 left after an Adam Kunkel steal. Durham tied it at 62 w/ two FTS on a wild drive and shot-surrounded by 3 XU defenders. Scruggs missed. Bynum swished. Ball game over!
XU played a strong 2nd half, moving the ball well on offense and getting scrappy stops on "D" but to win Xavier needed to push the score into the 70s where PC is uncomfortable. The shots were there. They did not go down.
Travis Steele started the two BIGS - Nunge and Freemantle. Both played well. Jack scored 15 with 9 boards and 3 blocks. Zach scored 12 with 4 rebounds. Paul Scruggs dominated the ball late w/ gutsy drives(16 points-4 rebounds-3 assists).
Colby Jones swooped all over the court (9 points-12 boards-3 assists-terrific compete level on rebounds and loose balls Jones rates little respect from BE officials. He was clearly grabbed on the arm going for an open lay-in early. Later he drove the baseline hard for a reverse lay-up and was obviously pushed to the deck by Noah Horchler. No call! Horchler was over the back repeatedly on the low block with no consequences.
X again was outscored from FT line. For most of the season they've dominated that stat category especially at Cintas. The game was winnable, but PC played mostly their way and X played primarily from behind.
2-2 in home BIG EAST games is not a good place to be if 12 or more BE wins is the goal. Six league home games remain. Six wins would be a good idea.
XU plays at Creighton Saturday afternoon (2PM EST_FS1). The Blue Jays play like an NBA team in Omaha. CU lost 72-55 at Butler Wednesday(now 4-3 BE). CU is 3-0 at home with wins over Villanova, DePaul and St Johns at CHI Health Center.
X needs a reset pronto. Their ball moved well vs PC especially in 2nd half and the effort was there. Bad shooting trumps all that stuff and great shooting makes up for a litany of other sins.