In England (and probably in other parts of the world), they say that form is temporary, but class is permanent. This is only pertinent in that, for 20 minutes tonight, St. Bonaventure was unquestionably the on-form team in the contest. Everything they touched turned into gold, while Xavier shot poorly, wasted the basketball, and generally underperformed. For X to pull out a W, they were going to need to show that they had the higher class of talent in the gym.
They did. I have, at the very most, the same amount of access to the Xavier locker room as you do, so it's hard to know exactly what Coach Mack said at the half, but the results were definitely there. X outscored the Bonnies by 19 in the second half - perhaps in a belated attempt to show what the first half should have looked like - on their way to a 79-65 victory.
How the game played out demonstrated why this one only got a 1.5 toughness factor. St. Bonaventure is simply not a very good basketball team, and Xavier - even playing poorly - should never lose to a team of that caliber. Xavier shot .578/.583/.714 on the night; removing Mark Lyons woeful 5-15/2-5/3-5 performance leaves the rest of the team shooting a cool .700/.714/.739.
Xavier also had 17 turnovers to only 10 assists, forced only 12 turnovers from one of the most irresponsible teams in the nation, and let the Bonnies shoot .444/.500/.750. These stats all combine to imply that Xavier was playing the whole game like it was garbage time, when the extra pass to open up a teammate is eschewed for two points on one's own tally, there's no need to play defense when we're going to outscore them anyway, and protecting the ball isn't really a priority. In all, there's not much to be taken from this game beyond the fact that X played poorly in a classic trap game against a team that was so bad that the Muskies won anyway. It will be up to Coach Mack and the staff to make sure that the Temple game this Saturday doesn't look like this one, and I'm confident they'll get the job done.
Odds and ends:
-I'm not sure what he's trying to prove, but Cheek led the team in rebounding again, this time pulling down eight. His previous career high was six, set twice last year and twice this year.
-Tu had 20 of his 22 in the second half, apparently to illustrate that he can just turn it on and off.
-Jeff Robinson posted perhaps his best game as a Muskie, going for 12-4-0 on 6-7/0-0/0-0 shooting.
-Xavier's bigs dominated from the floor, making 15 of their 19 shot attempts.
-Full recap from Brad should be up sometime tomorrow morning.
Next game: v. Temple, 3pm Saturday.