Gardner-Webb Scoring: Donta Harper 20, Tyler Strange 9, Mike Byron 8, Jerome Hill 5, Onzie Branch 4, Naji Hibbert 4, Tyrell Nelson 4, Isaiah Ivey 3, Josh Castellanos 2
Key Performance: Brandon Randolph's performance was exactly what this team needed with its thinning backcourt. Not only did the freshman show poise while running the team and allowing Semaj Christon to play off the ball, but he became one of the Musketeers' top offensive threats throughout the course of the game. He pushed the ball in transition and found gaps in the defense to score 12 points and dish out seven assists. Most importantly, he only had one turnover. It was a great first game from an important piece to this year's puzzle.
Good Stat: After watching the Quincy exhibition, my biggest concern for Xavier's offense was the ability to shoot from the outside. Myles Davis is clearly a knockdown shooter, but after that the Musketeers hadn't shown any improvement from the perimeter. Friday night the Musketeers only got one three from Davis before he was injured, but they still managed to knock down 5-of-10 from the outside and softened up Gardner-Webb's zone defense. Christon's first points of the game came on a three from the top of the key, and Randolph followed that up with a triple from the left wing. James Farr and Justin Martin both added 3-pointers later in the contest. If they can shoot like that on a consistent basis just to keep the defense from crowding the lane, they'll be a tough team to defend.
Ugly Stat: After struggling last year and having a poor showing in the exhibition against Quincy from the free-throw line, the Musketeers didn't do anything to ease the concerns of the fan base with their performance at the charity stripe Friday night. They hit just 22-of-40 from the line, with Christon (7-of-13) and Erik Stenger (1-of-5) being the worst offenders.
Farr Produces Off Bench: Coming into this season, there were very few outside expectations for second year big man James Farr. With four new faces including two post players, Farr was seemingly the forgotten player lost in the shuffle. After a solid but not great preseason, he looked pretty good in just seven minutes against Xavier's only exhibition opponent, Quincy. After Matt Stainbrook picked up his second foul with 4:36 left in the half Friday night (Jalen Reynolds already had three and Isaiah Philmore had two), Farr saw his first action of the season. He then proceeded to play the best five minutes of his career. He finished the first half with five points and five rebounds in just five minutes of action. Farr continued his aggressive play into the second half, and his confidence continued to build. He nailed a 3-pointer just inside the 8:00 mark to give him 10 points for the game, and he also grabbed nine rebounds.
Randolph Stars in Depleted Backcourt: There's been plenty of preseason talk about how mature Brandon Randolph has looked in practice. In Xavier's limited live action to this point though, he hasn't been the most assertive player on the court. Friday night, with Dee Davis ruled out before tipoff and Myles Davis getting injured early in the first half, Randolph showed just how unique he is for a freshman point guard. He combined with Semaj Christon to push the ball up the floor at a rapid pace, and then showed off the feel and vision to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. In the half court, Randolph showed the explosiveness to beat his man one-on-one or to drive the gaps in Gardner-Webb's zone defense, and once he was in the lane he had the control to find an open teammate or finish with touch. Chris Mack called his play "insanely good for a freshman," and the best part for the Musketeers is his upside is endless.
Injury Report: Myles Davis landed on his surgically-repaired left knee with 5:51 to play in the first half after being fouled on a drive to the basket. He immediately asked to be taken out of the game after missing a pair of free-throws, and didn't return. Mack said after the game that they didn't think there was any structural damage, and it was just "sore" after the fall, but added that they won't know anything for sure until Davis is evaluated over the weekend. Justin Martin also left the game with 3:08 to play after colliding with a Gardner-Webb player on a rebound. His head looked to have been hit by an elbow, and he immediately walked to the bench while the play was still going. Like Davis, Mack said nothing will be known on Martin's status until he is further evaluated this weekend.
Quotable: "James has a great attitude toward everything. He takes every opportunity he gets, and deserves a lot of credit for how he approaches practice and everything. That's why we're going to be a really good team, because of guys like him, who when he gets his chance, he's going to make the most of it. He's not afraid of the spotlight or anything like that." - Matt Stainbrook on James Farr
Takeaway: This is about exactly what you would have expected from this Xavier team in its first game… but that was at full strength. The coaching staff has to be happy with the way guys continued to play through adversity and with a "next man in" mentality. There wasn't a big drop-off because guys like Brandon Randolph, James Farr and Erik Stenger, and that speaks to the depth that has been talked about all preseason.