USC Scoring: Pe'Shon Howard 23, Byron Wesley 15, Julian Jacobs 14, Nikola Jovanovic 12, Roschon Prince 6, D.J. Haley 5, Omar Oraby 4, Kahlil Dukes 3, Brendyn Taylor 2
Good Stat: Xavier struggled to score nearly the entire game up until the final minutes when they tried to mount an incredibly unlikely comeback. The Musketeers started making their run with easy baskets that they generated with their defense. For the game they had 11 steals and forced the Trojans into 17 total turnovers, which they converted into 17 points. Without those steals, this score is a lot uglier, and the Musketeers never make that late comeback.
Bad Stat:Xavier's 12 first half turnovers led to 13 of USC's 45 points, which was more than the difference in the game at halftime. The Musketeers weren't terrible when it came to shooting. In fact they were 4-of-9 from beyond the arc, and shot 58.3 percent from the field. But the offense looked very similar to last year when the Musketeers had to labor to get good looks, and they got stagnant and sloppy as a result. Christon had five of the first half turnovers. Those problems continued into the second half, as the Volunteers finished with 26 points off of 19 Xavier turnovers.
Second Half Shooting Takes X Out of Game
Xavier trailed 45-34 at halftime, and clearly wasn't in a good spot as they failed to score the final 4:20 of the first half. But it was the first nine minutes of the second half that ultimately sealed the Musketeers' fate. Through the second media timeout at 11:03, X had made just one field goal and three free-throws as USC went on an 18-5 run that extended its lead to 23, 63-40. Xavier was 1-of-16 from the field with four turnovers during that stretch. The Musketeers' shooting woes were wide spread with several guys missing wide open looks, be it from 3-point range or point-blank layups. The struggles on offense clearly frustrated the players, and carried over to other aspects of the game, as X's defense didn't get back on defense and communicate well enough, and they had too many turnovers on offense.
Chris Mack felt a change was needed for the USC game, and decided to start James Farr and Myles Davis instead of Dee Davis and Isaiah Philmore. Dee Davis had been struggling throughout the first two games, and Farr has provided more of an offensive spark than Philmore. The change didn't have the desired effect, but it certainly wasn't the reason for the loss either. Farr had five of the Musketeers' first eight points, while Myles Davis had two steals and three rebounds in the first four minute war. Philmore also seemed to respond well to coming off of the bench as he had nine points on a 4-for-5 effort in the first half.
Takeaway: Xavier didn't respond well at all to the first adversity that the team has faced this season. This is a huge lesson for this team that will either be learned, or it will be a long season. In the Big East this year, the Musketeers will have to figure out how to leave a tough loss behind them and prepare for another good opponent on a short turnaround. The offensive issues are going to be there, but this team has now seen what happens when they don't show up to play with toughness, focus and intensity on defense and on the glass.