Quick Take: Iowa 77 Xavier 74

Xavier suffered its first loss of the season to Iowa, 77-74, Thursday night before a crowd of 2,258 fans at the Imperial Arena at Atlantis in the Bahamas. Read Rick Broering's quick take on the Musketeers' first loss of the season.

Xavier Scoring: Justin Martin 15 Semaj Christon 14, Myles Davis 12, Matt Stainbrook 11, Isaiah Philmore 8, Dee Davis 6, James Farr 4, Jalen Reynolds 4

Iowa Scoring: Roy Devyn Marble 30, Zach McCabe 11, Aaron White 10, Gabriel Olaseni 10, Melsahn Basabe 4, Anthony Clemmons 3, Adam Woodbury 2

Key Performance: Matt Stainbrook's performance was a huge key when Xavier was winning, and his time spent out of the game because of foul trouble was a huge key in why X lost. Once again the Musketeers were able to play through Stainbrook on the offensive end. He scored on the block, found teammates out of the high post against the zone defense, and was strong on the glass and on defense. He finished with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Good Stat: There were a few statistical categories that looked good for Xavier despite the loss, but the most impressive was the 19 points scored off turnovers and the 18 fast break points. The Musketeers were aggressive in the first half when it came to pushing the pace and getting out in transition. When they were getting stops on defense, or better yet steals (they had four of them), they capitalized and converted on the other end with transition buckets before the Hawkeyes could set up their stingy halfcourt defense.

Bad Stat: The Musketeers second half struggles taking care of the basketball were the biggest difference in the game. A big reason for it was Christon's unexpected departure for cramps, but the rest of the supporting cast has to be able to handle the pressure. There are more options this year than last, but the young guys aren't quite ready and Dee Davis didn't play like an upperclassman. An even bigger problem was the Musketeers' turnovers on the perimeter leading to runout baskets at the other end for the Hawkeyes. They finished with 22 points off of 19 Xavier turnovers.

Martin Provides a Lift

Xavier couldn't have played much better in the first half. The brightest spot from a really positive 20:00 minutes of action was the play of Justin Martin. Semaj Christon led the Musketeers with 10 points at the break, but Martin was right behind him with nine. He came out of the gate confident, nailing a quick-release 3-pointer less than three minutes in to push X's lead to 9-2. He wasn't perfect, as he missed a pair of threes badly, but his aggressiveness in transition and attacking the Hawkeyes' zone in the halfcourt made a difference for Xavier's offense. He didn't make as big of an impact on offense in the second half, but his defense against a couple of really good forwards, particularly Aaron White, was strong the entire game. Martin ended up playing the most minutes on the team at 35, and finished with a team-high 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal. If he brings that type of effort and focus every night, it will be a major boost for this team.

Cramping, Foul Trouble Cost X

Xavier was in control, 52-40, with 12:25 to play. Then Semaj Christon left the game with cramps, and the Musketeers folded in a fashion that was very similar to how they looked early on in the season last year when Christon was battling cramps. Without their point guard on the floor, they began turning the ball over (19 turnovers for the game) against the Hawkeyes trapping press. They also lost the ability to break down Iowa's zone defense that he brought to the table. With Myles Davis struggling (2-for-9 from deep) and being the only legitimate 3-point threat on the team, X became stagnant on the offensive end. Dee Davis struggled with four second half turnovers, and also failed to get open and come get the ball to handle it against Iowa's pressure instead of letting Myles Davis, Brandon Randolph and Justin Martin take care of it. Myles Davis had two turnovers and Randolph had one. Losing Christon was a huge issue, but the Musketeers nearly survived it. What they couldn't overcome was the foul trouble that kept Stainbrook and Philmore out for significant minutes in the second half, and ultimately disqualified them early in overtime. After Christon went out, Stainbrook was Xavier's last hope on offense with his ability to catch the ball in the high post and find teammates from there, or score in the post and on second-chance opportunities.

Takeaway: This is a hard loss to swallow because the Musketeers led the majority of the game and were up by as many as 15 points, but the reality of the situation is they also proved that with Semaj Christon on the court they can not only compete, but pretty much handle, a solid Big 10 team. It's a loss that doesn't really hurt, but a missed opportunity to gain a win that would've looked really nice on their resume.


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