Evansville Scoring: D.J. Balentine 15, Egidiju Mockevicius 11, Duane Gibson 8, Blake Simmons 7, Adam Wing 7, Jaylon Brown 6, Jaylon Moore 4, Christian Benzon 2
Key Performance: This is a tough game to pick out an individual performance, as different guys played well for key spurts in the second half, but overall I'd have to go with Dee Davis again. Davis has made a noticeable difference on the offensive end the last two games when he has checked in off the bench. He tries to play much faster by pushing the ball after makes or misses by the other team. He played steady with three assists and one turnover, while scoring 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including two huge threes. He also played great defense on DJ Balentine, and locked him up late in the game after Xavier took the lead.
Good Stat: This isn't really a stat. More of a stat line, but Justin Martin's final 10 minutes of this game were some of the finest he has played in a Xavier uniform. He scored three points, had two offensive rebounds, three steals, one assist and two blocks in those final minutes. Those stats depict his well-rounded effort, but at the same time don't fully convey the impact he had on the game. He was everywhere on the defensive end with deflections, two key steals, and two huge blocks, including the one with 20 seconds left which rejected a good look from just outside the lane by DJ Balentine that would have tied the game. Also, Martin's layup with 40 seconds left ended up being the game-winning points for the Musketeers, and put them ahead 62-60 at the time.
Ugly Stat:The major advantage Xavier held heading into Tuesday night's match-up with Evansville was size. The Purple Aces are small, especially when Egidiju Mockevicius is out of the game (and he was limited due to foul trouble all night), and they struggle to rebound or defend the post. Xavier wasn't able to capitalize on either deficiency. Some credit goes to Evansville for battling with everything they had when they went to a smaller lineup, but X didn't match that intensity inside. The Musketeers were out-rebounded 38-35 for the game and outscored 34-24 in the paint.
Another Slow Start: Xavier had to overcome another poor first half effort, as the Musketeers shot just 33 percent and scored a season-low 25 points in the first half. Despite Evansville being small, they out-toughed X in the paint and on the boards. The Purple Aces held a 17-15 advantage on the glass, and outscored Xavier 14-12 in the paint. X also had eight first half turnovers, which led to nine Evansville points - a recurring issue for this team. As it said in "The Matchups," Xavier had to control the areas of the game that they could control or it was going to be another close game. Rebounding, playing with toughness inside, finishing easy shots around the rim and taking care of the basketball against a team that doesn't pressure the ball are all facets of the game that this team has to take care of if they want to win with consistency. Another area where Evansville really helped itself against X was keeping the Muskies out of transition. Xavier only had six fast break points for the game.
Muskies Overcome Adversity Again: Just like in the Bowling Green win, Xavier had to overcome a sluggish start with a huge rally late in the game to come out on top against Evansville. X was down by 13 points at the 12:00 mark, but a 22-8 run capped by a Dee Davis 3-pointer gave the Musketeers the lead, 57-56, by the 5:00 mark. And then, they didn't score a field goal for nearly four minutes. Even still, they managed to come up with stops on the defensive end, kept their composure and found a way to win it in the end. Chris Mack would much rather his team blow out these less talented opponents, but the way the Musketeers have been able to win through adversity following their collapse in the Battle for Atlantis is definitely a step in the right direction and a good sign for Xavier fans. Dee Davis has been especially good in the last two games. He had a key turnover at the end of this one that everyone will remember, but that was his only turnover for the game and he made several big plays on both ends of the court, including locking up Evansville's star DJ Balentine. Justin Martin also played an important role in the closing minutes for X. He was everywhere on the defensive end and the glass. He brought some of the effort and toughness late in the game that the Musketeers have been lacking without Erik Stenger in the lineup.
Quotable: "We've got to rebound the basketball better. It's the fourth game in a row we've been out-rebounded. We've got to figure something out." - Chris Mack
Takeaway: Another game that didn't quite go the way Xavier wanted, but it's a big deal that the Muskies were able to pull out the last two games against opponents that would have definitely hurt their resume. It's too early to know whether this team will be in the conversation when Selection Sunday rolls around, but pulling out these last two wins at least keeps them alive before conference play starts.