Besides the fact that they are the Xavier Musketeers what is really wrong with Cincinnati’s second university? After losing three straight games in three days during November the Musketeers seemed to have righted the ship. That was until the last six games where Xavier has lost 4 of 6.
Beating the Cincinnati Bearcats has been Xavier’s most quality win this season, the started Big East play strong winning their first three before losing to Creighton. Georgetown was a quality win but then again they aren’t the Georgetown of the old the Big East. So the question still remains, what is to blame for the slump?
Now I won’t go along here and say they’re Xavier, of course they suck but I won’t. The three game losing streak in November can be blamed on the fact it was an early season tournament they lost to Iowa in overtime then faced two more AQ schools in back to back days. There is a reason for those losses, they can be explained. What can not be explained is why or rather how you proceed to lose to Providence, Seton Hall and Marquette in a six game stretch. Xavier also lost to #6 Villanova during that stretch as would be expected.
So what causes you to lose to mediocre teams in three of your last 6 games? The loss to Providence can be marked up to poor shooting from beyond the perimeter. Xavier shot 16% from beyond the arc while the Friars shot 40%, in a 9 point game three missed shots was the key to the game. Strangely enough though Xavier got plenty of help from all starters except Dee Davis. Isaiah Philmore scored 19 points, Semaj Christon 18, and Matt Stainbrook 11 all contributed, combine that with 2 bench players giving you 6 points a piece and you should have a win.
The Seton Hall game was much of the same for the Musketeers, poor shooting from beyond the arc. Xavier shot 14% (2-14) while Seton Hall shot 36% (8-22). Again in an 8 point game if you make 3 more shots theres a win. Another key element to the loss is the amount of turnovers Xavier committed, 13 is entirely too many even if Seton Hall had 10. Xavier also rode Stainbrook and Christon who combined for 37 points, other players must step up.
Marquette was a strange loss for Xavier and their most recent this past weekend. After beating the Golden Eagles in field goal percentage and three point percentage they still lost. Xavier committed 19 turnovers to Marquette’s 5. That right there could be the key. Combine that with the fact Marquette made 9 more free throws than Xavier and you have your reason for the loss.
Xavier has a 17-8 record and a 7-5 record in the Big East, sitting third in the Big East they are a bubble team for the tournament. Continuing to play like this will result in an NIT bid. What the Musketeers lack is a sense of attack, when games are close down the stretch they don’t kill they ride the wave and hope they finish on top. Cincinnati on the other hand kills at the end, they grind it out. Xavier needs to do the same, they won’t win the Big East tournament, Creighton and Villanova are too strong but they can still solidify their spot in the tournament.
Xavier’s shooting and turnovers have doomed them, combine that with their lack of intensity and we have this. They try to fix their issues this Wednesday at the Cintas Center against Depaul at 7pm ET on CBSSN.