As much as I hate it, it’s not the end of the world. Xavier is a pretty damn good team that played pretty damn well for the first three-quarters of this game. On the other hand, our Marquette Golden Eagles did not play very well. A mix of missed defensive assignments and missed layups resulted in Xavier taking a 13-5 lead to start the game. Marquette managed to keep it pretty close until the 11:33 mark when Marquette was down 19-15 (respectable) but then allowed a 20-6 Xavier run (not respectable) that raised the Xavier lead to 18 with 5 minutes left in the first half. From that point on, Xavier never looked back. They closed the half out with a score of 51-33, Marquette never got closer than 15 in the second half, and Xavier managed to push the lead all the way to 26 at one point. A small run towards the end of the game allowed Marquette to avoid the dreaded 20 point loss and “escape” with a 19 point loss at the Cintas Center.
I would love to talk about all the things that we did well this game but there really isn’t much. Markus Howard was awesome by himself, scoring 33 points on 14-of-27 shooting from the field, however (and you’re going to want to sit down for this and probably get a beverage, too) MARKUS HOWARD MISSED TWO FREE THROWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He has to settle for the fourth longest consecutive made free throws streak in NCAA history. I suppose that if Markus had to pick a night to be off from the line that tonight would suffice considering that his 33 points on a pretty efficient shooting night didn’t even come close to making this game close. Aside from Howard, not a single Marquette player had a good game. In fact, not a single other Golden Eagle even cracked eight points. Andrew Rowsey went 2-9 from the field and managed to also go 50% from the line (1-of-2), Harry Froling rebounded very well again and hit his second three of the season but committed four fouls and his liability on defense was nearing “Wet floor without a ‘slippery when wet’ sign nearby” level. Sam Hauser, who has been way more assertive in the past few games, only managed to take two shots (making one) and was overall invisible for most of the first half. His second half was not any better as Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat reporter Ben Steele noted he was limping going into the locker room and sat on the bench for all but three minutes of the second half.
I am not saying that this game is ending the season as one less than well informed publication noted before the game, however, there are some signs of worry. Marquette did not move the ball well tonight at all on offense, resulting in lots of one on one plays and hero ball from our two lead guards. Howard had an on night so it may be overlooked but even players the caliber of Markus Howard can’t win games by themselves. Rowsey had 16 to go with Howard’s 52 against Providence, remember. I won’t bother making a comment on tonight’s defensive effort because it has become clear that Marquette is switching off between good and bad defensive games intentionally. Think about it: Villanova? Bad. Seton Hall? Good. Butler? Bad. DePaul? Good. Xavier? Bad. This can only mean one thing… we will play a great defensive game against Villanova on Sunday and walk out of the BMO Harris Bradley Center with a win. #science #factsonly #nofollowupquestions
On a side note, my friend Dave broke his twice surgically repaired ankle at the rec again so at least the players didn’t have the worst day of anyone at the school. Little victories, everyone. Except for Dave, I guess.