Good Stat: In the last game against Seton Hall, Xavier turned the ball over 13 times which led to 21 points for the Pirates. The match-up zone seemed to confuse the Musketeers which led to some really poor passes along the perimeter, which were stolen and taken back for an easy transition basket. This time X still had 14 turnovers, but a few of them came on offensive fouls and other deadball situations that didn't lead to easy points. Seton Hall only had 12 points off turnovers. Even more interestingly, the Musketeers forced the Pirates into 16 turnovers and converted them into 17 points. Their defense had 11 steals, which was the second game in a row that they were in double-digits after having 10 against Creighton, led by Christon and Martin with three each. With Stainbrook potentially being out for a while, the Musketeers may have to look at playing smaller, going a little more uptempo and trying to force more turnovers to get out in transition more often.
Bad Stat: There were a lot of factors that went against the Musketeers in this game, but the worst stat of all was definitely their 3-of-22 (13.6%) mark from beyond the arc. In the first game at the Cintas Center, the Musketeers got some good looks in the second half after they got a better feel for the match-up zone defense they were facing, but they still couldn't put any of them down as they finished just 2-of-14 (14.3%) from 3-point range for the game. That was again the case Monday night at the Prudential Center. The Musketeers got wide open look after wide open look, typically off of a nice pass from Christon who was creating in the middle of the zone and looking to kick out, but they couldn't connect. Myles Davis really struggled, going 0-for-4 on the night with mostly all great looks. Dee Davis was just 1-for-5, while Martin was 1-for-6 and Christon was 1-for-3. Farr added an 0-for-3 off the bench, and Philmore air-balled one in the first half.
Missed Shots Main Culprit in X's Loss: The result looked like another typical poor road performance by Xavier, but the truth was this one was a little bit different. The Musketeers didn't come out scared, and they didn't look like they weren't ready to play. They did get off to a slow start because they just couldn't put the ball in the basket no matter what they did. They made only 1-of-5 shots in the first four minute war, but defensively they showed good energy. The Musketeers' offensive struggles continued, as they missed point blank shots and free-throws that could have given them a lead. At the second media timeout with 11:00 to play, they were just 2-of-11 from the field and 1-of-4 from the free-throw line, but thanks to their defensive effort they only trailed 8-6 by limiting the Pirates to 3-of-11 shooting from the field. With 8:02 to play in the first half, Stainbrook injured his left knee, fell to the floor screaming and was in what looked to be excruciating pain, before leaving the floor with help. From that point, it seemed like the wind was let out of the Musketeers' sails for the rest of the first half. After Philmore came in for Stainbrook and made his two free-throws, Seton Hall led by two, 16-14. Thanks to a pair of free-throws by Teague and five straight points from Oliver, the Pirates went on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 23-14. If there was one issue that really showed up on the defensive end, it was a few breakdowns that led to open threes, and they happened to come at the end of the half when the Musketeers were already reeling from the loss of Stainbrook. After showing great awareness and improvement against Creighton, especially when it came to defending the transition three, Seton Hall was able to run Oliver up the sideline for spray threes in transition. The Musketeers were also well aware that Seton Hall likes to run its shooters off of staggered screens to get them open for looks, but still managed to let the Pirates get free for some clean shots. Oliver banged in two more threes, one with 2:40 left to extend the lead to 10 and one with 1:22 left to give the Pirates their biggest lead of the game at 14, 32-18. They led 32-20 at the half, and those 20 points marked Xavier's lowest output in a first half this season. The Musketeers would come up short in the second half, but halftime at least seemed to allow them an opportunity to regroup, and they came back out with a lot of fight in the second half. It was Christon who finally sparked the offense, as he came out in takeover mode. He scored 11 of the Musketeers' first 12 points, as they cut it to a 37-32 game at the 17:00 minute mark, but that'd be as close as they'd get. The coaching staff did a good job of creating better ball movement against the zone in the second half and continuously fed Christon in the middle, which opened up wide open kick-outs for shooters, but X was incapable of knocking down any of those open looks. As was already stated, 3-for-22 from 3-point range isn't going to get it done, especially when you're getting good looks against a zone defense, and it wasn't just threes... the Musketeers struggled to finish shots around the rim as well. It wasn't a lack of energy or effort that cost X this game, it was the inability to put the ball in the basket.
Stainbrook Injures Left Knee: With 8:02 left in the first half, Stainbrook came in from the short corner to receive a dump-off pass from across the lane by Philmore. He caught the pass in mid hop and when he came down and planted his weight, his upper left leg seemed to collide a bit with Fuquan Edwin, which sent Stainbrook to the floor writhing, screaming and pounding the floor in pain, holding his left knee. Stainbrook was helped off the court, and didn't return into the arena until later in the second half when he emerged with crutches and sat behind X's bench. No one ever wants to see an injury, but especially with the dedication Stainbrook has shown to working on his body to get himself into the best shape of his life for this season, anyone who has been around him has to feel a little extra sympathy for the agony the big man must be going through knowing that his season could be over. There is some reason to be optimistic, most notably that they didn't deem it to be an ACL tear right away, or at least X isn't saying that. The drawer test can be done immediately on the court after the injury and often reveals an ACL tear right away. Chris Mack said after the game that they are hopeful it's just an MCL strain, but that they won't know anything until he has an MRI done back in Cincinnati. The impact the loss of Stainbrook would have on this team is huge. It could be seen clearly in the loss to Seton Hall, as the Musketeers lost one of their biggest advantages that they've held against opponents all season long, the rebounding edge. Mack opted to go with a smaller three guard lineup that featured Martin at the four along with one post player more after Stainbrook went down, and that might be an adjustment that they'll have to use more in the next few games without the big man. Where once they had good post depth, the Musketeers are now thin and inexperienced in the frontcourt. More importantly, they lost a key cog in their offense. Often the Muskies' were at their best when the offense was running through Stainbrook and he was making good decisions when passing out of the post. Now, they'll have to rely even more heavily on the playmaking abilities of Christon and Dee Davis. The hardest part of Stainbrook's injury to predict is the impact it will have on the Musketeers' NCAA tournament chances or seeding. If he's out for any serious amount of time, the committee will have to consider X as a team without one of its best players. For this reason, X may be very vague about the chances of his return and the severity of the injury.
Takeaway: The loss is costly, but the injury to Stainbrook could very well derail the season. Regardless of the ramifications it has on the selection committee and X's at-large chances, losing one of their top players is definitely going to be tough for the Musketeers to overcome. This loss doesn't undo what X did Saturday and the quality wins that they have already, but combined with the loss of Stainbrook it probably puts the Musketeers back in a position where they could really use one more win to feel completely comfortable with getting into the tournament. It doesn't have to be Villanova on Thursday, a win at Madison Square Garden would probably do the trick, but there's definitely cause for concern again if the committee has to judge X as a tournament team without their center. As far as this actual loss goes, the bottom line is they couldn't hit shots. There's a reason they went out and landed two commitments from big-time shooting wings in the 2014 class. Also, Seton Hall deserves some credit. The Pirates' three standout seniors - Teague, Oliver and Edwin - showed up and outplayed what X had to offer on Monday night. Those three went out in style at the Prudential Center by scoring 54 of their teams' 71 points.