What happened: Xavier 76 - St. Louis 68
From the beginning of the game, it looked like Xavier was going to be able to leverage Kenny Frease's height into offensive domination, and he had eight points on 4-4 shooting in the first five minutes. From that point forward though, it became clear that St. Louis was focusing on taking the big man out of Xavier's offense. Kenny went another six minutes before his next shot attempt and ended the half 6-9 from the floor. He only had 3 shot attempts in the second half and ended the game with 12-8-2 on 6-12/0-0/0-3 shooting.
With Frease being choked out of the equation, the Xavier offense sputtered while looking for answers. With 16:49 left in the game, Xavier had ten turnovers; ten seconds later, the Billikens led 37-34 and the situation was looking very vexing indeed. The Xavier guards found their stride from that point forward, and the team followed. XU didn't turn the ball over from that point forward and outscored St. Louis 42-31 the rest of the way to wrest control of the game.
Tu and Cheek - the usual suspects - both played all 40 minutes for X and kept the team moving forward. Holloway shouldered the scoring load with 24-5-1 on 8-16/3-6/5-6 shooting, but his performance was somewhat tempered by his four turnovers. Lyons' 15-4-7 on 5-12/2-5/3-3 was also a little bit tainted by four turnovers. With the post choked off, Dante (no doubt an avid reader of the Examiner) stepped up and answered the call for a third guard with 8-5-3 on 2-4/2-2/2-4. He also added two blocks and a steal on the defensive end and only turned the ball over once. By now Dante's season numbers are going to look awful no matter what he does, so he needs to focus on putting together one game at a time from here on out.
I usually focus on Xavier's numbers during these little exercises, but it bears mention that Rob Loe and Brian Conklin went bananas today. They normally combine for 12.8 PPG on fairly mediocre shooting lines, but today they went for 42 on 16-20/4-4/6-6. With the rest of the team combining for 26 points on 5-26/4-17/12-14 shooting, the uncharacteristically productive displays from these two kept St. Louis in the game.
Odds and ends:
-Xavier got 27 bench minutes; the reserves combined for 6-3-0 on 2-4/0-1/2-2. They also chipped in a steal and two blocks and didn't turn the ball over.
-Xavier starters were 7-13 from behind the arc, which was a pivotal factor in today's game. Another horrible perimeter shooting performance would have put Xavier in danger of another bad conference loss.
-Rob Loe had made 8 of his last 43 from behind the arc coming into the game; he was 4-4 today.
-Stick around for a full recap from Brad.
Next game: @Georgia 7pm Tuesday.