Breakdown: XU loses at home to Creighton

Rick takes a look at what went wrong for the Musketeers in Wednesday's loss with video examples.

Xavier suffered its worst defeat of the season Wednesday night, falling 79-72 in overtime to Creighton at the Cintas Center.

In recent home games, the Musketeers' routine has been to struggle early before turning it on in the second half and pulling away for the win. Wednesday night that never happened. Outside of four Remy Abell 3-pointers; the shots never started falling consistently, the defense never locked in fully and the team didn't corral key defensive rebounds in the final moments. Neither half was good, and Xavier left the game with more questions and doubt surrounding the team than at any point this season.

These words have been written about this team before, but they're worth repeating. This is a team that is built to win with its offense right now. Xavier leads the Big East in points per possession (1.16 ppp) and effective field goal percentage (57.5%) when playing at home. Wednesday night the Musketeers averaged just 0.99 points per possession and had an effective field percentage of 43.9 percent.

Neither team was great on offense. Creighton is averaging .90 points per possession on the road this season, but averaged 1.05 against the Musketeers' struggling defense.

The biggest reason for Xavier's offensive struggles is the most obvious: missed shots. The Musketeers have been struggling to put the ball in the basket, especially from the perimeter, since Big East play started. Trevon Bluiett went 0-for-6 from the floor, Myles Davis went 2-for-7 and the team went 6-for-19 from the perimeter. In addition, the entire team struggled to finish around the rim in the first half. Multiple guys missed high percentage shots from point blank range.

While the Musketeers missed a lot of easy shots they should have made, they also shot a poor percentage because of bad shot selection at times. This has been an issue for a few guys fairly regularly throughout Big East play, but it seemed like the whole team was guilty of it against Creighton.

James Farr has been struggling with his jump shot all season. What makes it even more strange is as his slump has continued he's seemingly hunted more shots. These are a couple of bad looks early in the shot clock for Farr.

Farr missed J.

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Farr misses jumper.

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And I'm not really sure what Dee Davis was doing here. This isn't good decision-making or feel on the offensive end. .

Dee Davis gets blocked by Roselle.

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This one is an important possession for X. Only down two midway through the second half, Myles Davis just jacks an out-of-rhythm, contested three early in the shot clock.

Myles Davis misses a three.

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The Musketeers only finished with 10 turnovers, so that's not what cost them the game. However, when they were especially struggling in the first half, they had some really bad freshmen mistakes that didn't help matters.

Bluiett turnover.

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Macura turnover.

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Then this is a key possession in the second half. Xavier leads by one with over six minutes. Reynolds has a mismatch in the post, so Stainbrook's man (Roselle) immediately comes to double. However, Creighton's philosophy on defense is to always sell out in the paint to stop easy layups at all costs and leave shooters. Reynolds has the right idea but makes the wrong read. He either had to hit Stainbrook right away, or fire opposite wing to Abell who Kreklow had abandoned to help on Stainbrook.

Kreklow jumps Reynolds' pass.

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For the purposes of this article, it's always easier to break down the miscues on the defensive end when Xavier loses because a lot of times the offensive struggles really do come down to making shots. Defensively, there were a bunch of different issues that stood out, and these mistakes are magnified when the offense isn't performing.

Once again, Xavier's opponent shot it well from the perimeter. The Bluejays hit 10-of-24 (42%) from deep, and those threes came in a few different ways.

This first clip was Creighton's first points of the game. Now, Austin Chatman is not a very good 3-point shooter, but the Bluejays use Zach Hanson to set a quick back flare screen on Dee Davis, while Chatman spaces to the corner and gets a wide open three. It would seem that Stainbrook doesn't communicate this well enough or early enough to Davis, and he clearly offers no help once Davis is screened.

Chatman hits a three.

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This might go down as the most egregious sin of the season on defense for the Musketeers. A slow moving Stainbrook reads a dribble handoff coming from Will Artino and begins calling out the screen to Brandon Randolph. Artino notices that Stainbrook isn't showing him any respect with the ball, and drives straight to the rim for a dunk. Will Artino.

Artino dunk.

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This play is the result of Creighton putting four shooters on the court with Artino. He runs and screens for all of them, and they space along the perimeter waiting for their shot. On this specific play, he runs a pick-and-roll at the elbow with Chatman while the rest of Xavier's defenders are out along the perimeter guarding shooters. Normally, a guy like Bluiett who is guarding the four here would be able to offer some help by bumping Artino, but because he's out on a shooter in Toby Hegner and Creighton wisely runs the ball screen near the free-throw line instead of out high at the top of the key it doesn't offer an opportunity for Xavier to help. This is probably what led to Xavier switching everything later in the game.

Artino scores on the pick and roll.

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Then after giving up that easy pick-and-roll to Artino, Reynolds tries to recover early this time after hedging the screen to take that pass away. It results in him leaving before Remy Abell is fully recovered, and James Milliken uses the head start to his advantage on the drive.

Milliken scores off a ball screen.

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Xavier tried to go zone for a stretch, but had to get back out of it rather quickly because of transition defense. This play is just brutal. The entire defense is back before Devin Brooks crosses midcourt, but J.P. Macura and Brandon Randolph are worried about getting to their spot in the zone and Stainbrook is moving just barely fast enough to catch Brooks whizzing by for a layup as he turns around. No one stops the ball.

Brooks scores in transition against X's zone.

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This is the very next possession. X again is going to set up in its zone, but Brooks is pushing it. Reynolds looks like he's going to try and stop the ball, but then kind of leaves it. Macura is initially in position to stop the ball, but then hops out of Reynolds' and Brooks' way to get back into his spot in the zone. When Myles Davis and Randolph collapse at the last second, it leads an easy kick out to Chatman. X caught a break with him missing this one.

Chatman misses three.

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And a third straight poor defensive trip in transition leads to a three for Rick Kreklow.

Kreklow three.

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More of X just not being ready to defend in the zone leads to another three for Kreklow.

Kreklow three.

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X switched back to man-to-man here. One thing Creighton did a nice job of was spreading Xavier's defense out by overloading certain areas of the court with shooters on the opposite side of where they were running ball screens. This puts the Musketeers in a predicament with the way they hedge screens. If they're going to do that, then they are forced to make a decision between bringing a third defender to help on the roll man or getting out on Creighton's shooters. The Bluejays did as good of job as any team X has faced at exploiting this issue with great spacing. On this one, Reynolds sees the ball screen happening on the right side of the court as his man (Kreklow) is cutting through to the opposite corner. He decides to stay and take away the easy pick-and-roll from the screener Hanson, but that leaves Kreklow in the corner for a three.

Kreklow three.

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This is an example of poor communication and probably even more so just confusion or a lack of recognition on Trevon Bluiett's part. Myles Davis ended up on Kreklow earlier in the possession somehow, and as Kreklow heads towards Brooks for a dribble-handoff Davis expects a switch. Bluiett wasn't on the same page. Davis switches off to Brooks at the same time that Bluiett jumps through the dribble-handoff to get out on Brooks, leaving Kreklow open six feet away for a another three.

Kreklow 3.

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On this one, Reynolds seems to turn towards Myles Davis for a split second to say something right at the same as Devin Brooks is running off a high ball-screen set by Roselle. Had Reynolds seen it earlier, he would have had time to react and bump Roselle to offer more help for Stainbrook. Stainbrook doesn't do a very good job of owning the screen and then allows a passing lane for Brooks to find Roselle cutting to the rim. To top it off, Reynolds helps just in time to foul Roselle as he's making a layup. Again, having four perimeter players on the court helps Creighton in these situations.

Roselle and-one.

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We talked about on the podcast how sometimes the switching defense in the second half had Xavier's bigs out of position to rebound Creighton's misses. But this isn't that. This is one where X had Stainbrook and Reynolds in position, and Stainbrook was beat by Roselle for the rebound. This may have been the worst part about Xavier's performance in this game - the Musketeers' bigs weren't better than Creighton's bigs.

Roselle offensive rebound.

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This is the last play of the first half. Mack subbed in Randolph, Austin, Abell, Myles Davis and Stainbrook for this possession. Stainbrook is late to react to Roselle going up to set the ball screen, so by the time he gets there he has to try and guard Brooks coming downhill off the screen with a two dribble head start. Brooks leaves him in the dust and lays it in easily. Reynolds and Farr each had two fouls, but does Farr having two fouls really matter with the limited minutes he's playing anyway?

Brooks scores off ball screen to beat buzzer.

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Creighton starts the second half the same way it played throughout the first, with Stainbrook's man (Hanson) going to ball screen and shooters spacing the floor. Dee Davis is matched up with Kreklow this time. He knows he has to recover quick to the shooter, so while he is initially in position to hold off Hanson until Stainbrook can recover he actually ends up leaving to get out on Kreklow right as Brooks is whipping a pass to Hanson on the roll.

Hanson scores on a pick and roll.

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At the beginning of this play, Stainbrook and Farr switch due to a screen away from the ball, leaving Stainbrook on Avery Dingman. When Dingman catches the ball at the top of the key, Stainbrook has a weird lunging closeout that Dingman attacks immediately. Dee Davis is in help position, but when he has to cut Dingman off it leads to a wide open three for Chatman.

Chatman hits a three.

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This is pretty inexcusable for Farr. He actually does a pretty good job of making Roselle catch it off the block and a good six feet or so from the rim, but then he lets him back him all the way to the front of the charge circle and flip an easy and-one over the front of the rim.

Roselle and-one.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

Watch Dee Davis and James Farr in the lane at the beginning of this play. They're both back and communicating who to take. Roselle (7-footer) is directly in front of them and Avery Dingman is near mid-court approaching the right wing. For some reason, Davis points to the wing and tells Farr to jump out and get Dingman, leaving him to guard Roselle. And then, exactly what you think would happen happens.

Roselle easy bucket.

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Here's another instance where a lack of a rim protector hurts X. Everyone does a pretty good job defensively. Abell is with Milliken on the drive right up until the point that Roselle (Stainbrook's man) hip checks him and seals him out of the play, and Stainbrook isn't a threat to alter the shot or even step up and help on this play.

Milliken banks it in.

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Here's a similar play with Reynolds in the game to challenge the shot instead.

Reynolds helps on D.

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Here's another play where Creighton puts Stainbrook through a few ball screens on the same possession. At the end of the shot clock, he's just late to arrive to hedge or own the screen. Brooks is already coming downhill and is easily able to split Stainbrook and Dee Davis with a crossover that gets him into the lane for an easy floater. That's pretty demoralizing after defending well for the first 29 seconds of the shot clock.

Brooks scores at the end of the shot clock.

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More bad communication on a switch without a screen. These seem to trip Bluiett up.

Dingman three.

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Here Creighton sets two screens to get Stainbrook on Chatman. He keeps him in front initially this time, but he backs up way too much and allows Chatman to rise for the easy jumper. He had help in both gaps and should have pressed up in that situation.

Dingman three.

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Chatman ties it up with six minutes left on this one. Dee Davis receives basically a running screen from Roselle in transition, so Stainbrook picks up Chatman. This is very similar to the play above. He backs way too far up with help to either side of him and allows Chatman to bury the open mid-range jumper.

Chatman pull up.

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It looks like Xavier is switching everything here, or at least one through four with Reynolds at the four. He and Abell immediately switch without Roselle even having to set a screen. That leaves Abell guarding the 7-footer, and it ends in Creighton taking the lead with less than a minute to play.

Roselle takes the lead with a bucket in the post.

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Here are some other random positive plays for the Musketeers that caught my attention:

I like this play by Xavier. Knowing Creighton is more worried about sagging into the lane and playing help defense, Dee Davis waves Abell on to cut through the baseline, and then whips a pass to Bluiett at the top of the key. Brooks doesn't chase Abell hard along the baseline and Reynolds times him up and ends up sealing him with a post up as he's trying to get out to Abell.

Abell three.

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This whole game was a poor effort for Xavier. One guy who can't be faulted for trying though is Jalen Reynolds. He wasn't perfect but I'll be damned if he wasn't trying. This moment had me laughing for at least three possessions.

Reynolds slapping the floor.

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Follow Reynolds this whole possession and watch his motor.

Reynolds tip dunk.

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Then on the very next play, he does this and takes himself out of the game by picking up his third foul. Again, can't fault his effort but these are the plays he has to learn to avoid. The chances of corralling that loose ball wasn't worth him having to leave the game.

Reynolds picks up his third foul.

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This was a cool out of bounds play from X. We've seen them run all types of variations off this initially four across setup. This one starts out with Bluiett popping out to catch a pass, and then turning and tossing to Reynolds who does the same thing. Bluiett then screens for Dee Davis coming from the left corner to the left wing to receive a pass from Reynolds. After Reynolds passes, he starts towards the corner like he's screening for Abell, but then he makes a hard cut for the basket and the in-bounder, Myles Davis, is setting a back screen on his man for a lob.

Oop for Reynolds.

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This is what I mean when I say Myles Davis is this team's best creator off the bounce and go-to offensive option.

Myles Davis assists Farr.

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By the way, Xavier isn't the only team that struggles to defend ball screens. Here they gave the Jays a little taste of their own medicine.

Stainbrook scores on the pick and roll.

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This is a first offensive possession out of a timeout, and it's an important one late in the game. X does a great job of recognizing that Kreklow is guarding Reynolds and making Creighton pay for that decision. Stainbrook gets it in the high post, and Roselle gives Stainbrook plenty of room to pass by sagging off.

Reynolds scores off of a high low pass from Stainbrook.

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I pointed out his terrible pass in the first half, but this is a perfect entry pass by Bluiett in a critical moment.

Reynolds scores in the post.

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This is a tremendous individual play by Reynolds, and another great example of how much of a difference his athleticism and rim protection make on the defensive end.

Reynolds block.

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Farr misses jumper.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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And I'm not really sure what Dee Davis was doing here. This isn't good decision-making or feel on the offensive end. .

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Dee Davis gets blocked by Roselle.

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This one is an important possession for X. Only down two midway through the second half, Myles Davis just jacks an out-of-rhythm, contested three early in the shot clock.

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Myles Davis misses a three.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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The Musketeers only finished with 10 turnovers, so that's not what cost them the game. However, when they were especially struggling in the first half, they had some really bad freshmen mistakes that didn't help matters.

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Bluiett turnover.

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Macura turnover.

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Then this is a key possession in the second half. Xavier leads by one with over six minutes. Reynolds has a mismatch in the post, so Stainbrook's man (Roselle) immediately comes to double. However, Creighton's philosophy on defense is to always sell out in the paint to stop easy layups at all costs and leave shooters. Reynolds has the right idea but makes the wrong read. He either had to hit Stainbrook right away, or fire opposite wing to Abell who Kreklow had abandoned to help on Stainbrook.

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Kreklow jumps Reynolds' pass.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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For the purposes of this article, it's always easier to break down the miscues on the defensive end when Xavier loses because a lot of times the offensive struggles really do come down to making shots. Defensively, there were a bunch of different issues that stood out, and these mistakes are magnified when the offense isn't performing.

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Once again, Xavier's opponent shot it well from the perimeter. The Bluejays hit 10-of-24 (42%) from deep, and those threes came in a few different ways.

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This first clip was Creighton's first points of the game. Now, Austin Chatman is not a very good 3-point shooter, but the Bluejays use Zach Hanson to set a quick back flare screen on Dee Davis, while Chatman spaces to the corner and gets a wide open three. It would seem that Stainbrook doesn't communicate this well enough or early enough to Davis, and he clearly offers no help once Davis is screened.

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Chatman hits a three.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This might go down as the most egregious sin of the season on defense for the Musketeers. A slow moving Stainbrook reads a dribble handoff coming from Will Artino and begins calling out the screen to Brandon Randolph. Artino notices that Stainbrook isn't showing him any respect with the ball, and drives straight to the rim for a dunk. Will Artino.

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Artino dunk.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This play is the result of Creighton putting four shooters on the court with Artino. He runs and screens for all of them, and they space along the perimeter waiting for their shot. On this specific play, he runs a pick-and-roll at the elbow with Chatman while the rest of Xavier's defenders are out along the perimeter guarding shooters. Normally, a guy like Bluiett who is guarding the four here would be able to offer some help by bumping Artino, but because he's out on a shooter in Toby Hegner and Creighton wisely runs the ball screen near the free-throw line instead of out high at the top of the key it doesn't offer an opportunity for Xavier to help. This is probably what led to Xavier switching everything later in the game.

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Artino scores on the pick and roll.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Then after giving up that easy pick-and-roll to Artino, Reynolds tries to recover early this time after hedging the screen to take that pass away. It results in him leaving before Remy Abell is fully recovered, and James Milliken uses the head start to his advantage on the drive.

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Milliken scores off a ball screen.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Xavier tried to go zone for a stretch, but had to get back out of it rather quickly because of transition defense. This play is just brutal. The entire defense is back before Devin Brooks crosses midcourt, but J.P. Macura and Brandon Randolph are worried about getting to their spot in the zone and Stainbrook is moving just barely fast enough to catch Brooks whizzing by for a layup as he turns around. No one stops the ball.

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Brooks scores in transition against X's zone.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is the very next possession. X again is going to set up in its zone, but Brooks is pushing it. Reynolds looks like he's going to try and stop the ball, but then kind of leaves it. Macura is initially in position to stop the ball, but then hops out of Reynolds' and Brooks' way to get back into his spot in the zone. When Myles Davis and Randolph collapse at the last second, it leads an easy kick out to Chatman. X caught a break with him missing this one.

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Chatman misses three.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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And a third straight poor defensive trip in transition leads to a three for Rick Kreklow.

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Kreklow three.

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More of X just not being ready to defend in the zone leads to another three for Kreklow.

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Kreklow three.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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X switched back to man-to-man here. One thing Creighton did a nice job of was spreading Xavier's defense out by overloading certain areas of the court with shooters on the opposite side of where they were running ball screens. This puts the Musketeers in a predicament with the way they hedge screens. If they're going to do that, then they are forced to make a decision between bringing a third defender to help on the roll man or getting out on Creighton's shooters. The Bluejays did as good of job as any team X has faced at exploiting this issue with great spacing. On this one, Reynolds sees the ball screen happening on the right side of the court as his man (Kreklow) is cutting through to the opposite corner. He decides to stay and take away the easy pick-and-roll from the screener Hanson, but that leaves Kreklow in the corner for a three.

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Kreklow three.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is an example of poor communication and probably even more so just confusion or a lack of recognition on Trevon Bluiett's part. Myles Davis ended up on Kreklow earlier in the possession somehow, and as Kreklow heads towards Brooks for a dribble-handoff Davis expects a switch. Bluiett wasn't on the same page. Davis switches off to Brooks at the same time that Bluiett jumps through the dribble-handoff to get out on Brooks, leaving Kreklow open six feet away for a another three.

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Kreklow 3.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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On this one, Reynolds seems to turn towards Myles Davis for a split second to say something right at the same as Devin Brooks is running off a high ball-screen set by Roselle. Had Reynolds seen it earlier, he would have had time to react and bump Roselle to offer more help for Stainbrook. Stainbrook doesn't do a very good job of owning the screen and then allows a passing lane for Brooks to find Roselle cutting to the rim. To top it off, Reynolds helps just in time to foul Roselle as he's making a layup. Again, having four perimeter players on the court helps Creighton in these situations.

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Roselle and-one.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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We talked about on the podcast how sometimes the switching defense in the second half had Xavier's bigs out of position to rebound Creighton's misses. But this isn't that. This is one where X had Stainbrook and Reynolds in position, and Stainbrook was beat by Roselle for the rebound. This may have been the worst part about Xavier's performance in this game - the Musketeers' bigs weren't better than Creighton's bigs.

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Roselle offensive rebound.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is the last play of the first half. Mack subbed in Randolph, Austin, Abell, Myles Davis and Stainbrook for this possession. Stainbrook is late to react to Roselle going up to set the ball screen, so by the time he gets there he has to try and guard Brooks coming downhill off the screen with a two dribble head start. Brooks leaves him in the dust and lays it in easily. Reynolds and Farr each had two fouls, but does Farr having two fouls really matter with the limited minutes he's playing anyway?

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Brooks scores off ball screen to beat buzzer.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Creighton starts the second half the same way it played throughout the first, with Stainbrook's man (Hanson) going to ball screen and shooters spacing the floor. Dee Davis is matched up with Kreklow this time. He knows he has to recover quick to the shooter, so while he is initially in position to hold off Hanson until Stainbrook can recover he actually ends up leaving to get out on Kreklow right as Brooks is whipping a pass to Hanson on the roll.

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Hanson scores on a pick and roll.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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At the beginning of this play, Stainbrook and Farr switch due to a screen away from the ball, leaving Stainbrook on Avery Dingman. When Dingman catches the ball at the top of the key, Stainbrook has a weird lunging closeout that Dingman attacks immediately. Dee Davis is in help position, but when he has to cut Dingman off it leads to a wide open three for Chatman.

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Chatman hits a three.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is pretty inexcusable for Farr. He actually does a pretty good job of making Roselle catch it off the block and a good six feet or so from the rim, but then he lets him back him all the way to the front of the charge circle and flip an easy and-one over the front of the rim.

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Roselle and-one.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Watch Dee Davis and James Farr in the lane at the beginning of this play. They're both back and communicating who to take. Roselle (7-footer) is directly in front of them and Avery Dingman is near mid-court approaching the right wing. For some reason, Davis points to the wing and tells Farr to jump out and get Dingman, leaving him to guard Roselle. And then, exactly what you think would happen happens.

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Roselle easy bucket.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Here's another instance where a lack of a rim protector hurts X. Everyone does a pretty good job defensively. Abell is with Milliken on the drive right up until the point that Roselle (Stainbrook's man) hip checks him and seals him out of the play, and Stainbrook isn't a threat to alter the shot or even step up and help on this play.

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Milliken banks it in.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Here's a similar play with Reynolds in the game to challenge the shot instead.

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Reynolds helps on D.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Here's another play where Creighton puts Stainbrook through a few ball screens on the same possession. At the end of the shot clock, he's just late to arrive to hedge or own the screen. Brooks is already coming downhill and is easily able to split Stainbrook and Dee Davis with a crossover that gets him into the lane for an easy floater. That's pretty demoralizing after defending well for the first 29 seconds of the shot clock.

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Brooks scores at the end of the shot clock.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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More bad communication on a switch without a screen. These seem to trip Bluiett up.

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Dingman three.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Here Creighton sets two screens to get Stainbrook on Chatman. He keeps him in front initially this time, but he backs up way too much and allows Chatman to rise for the easy jumper. He had help in both gaps and should have pressed up in that situation.

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Dingman three.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Chatman ties it up with six minutes left on this one. Dee Davis receives basically a running screen from Roselle in transition, so Stainbrook picks up Chatman. This is very similar to the play above. He backs way too far up with help to either side of him and allows Chatman to bury the open mid-range jumper.

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Chatman pull up.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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It looks like Xavier is switching everything here, or at least one through four with Reynolds at the four. He and Abell immediately switch without Roselle even having to set a screen. That leaves Abell guarding the 7-footer, and it ends in Creighton taking the lead with less than a minute to play.

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Roselle takes the lead with a bucket in the post.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Here are some other random positive plays for the Musketeers that caught my attention:

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I like this play by Xavier. Knowing Creighton is more worried about sagging into the lane and playing help defense, Dee Davis waves Abell on to cut through the baseline, and then whips a pass to Bluiett at the top of the key. Brooks doesn't chase Abell hard along the baseline and Reynolds times him up and ends up sealing him with a post up as he's trying to get out to Abell.

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Abell three.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This whole game was a poor effort for Xavier. One guy who can't be faulted for trying though is Jalen Reynolds. He wasn't perfect but I'll be damned if he wasn't trying. This moment had me laughing for at least three possessions.

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Reynolds slapping the floor.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Follow Reynolds this whole possession and watch his motor.

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Reynolds tip dunk.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Then on the very next play, he does this and takes himself out of the game by picking up his third foul. Again, can't fault his effort but these are the plays he has to learn to avoid. The chances of corralling that loose ball wasn't worth him having to leave the game.

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Reynolds picks up his third foul.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This was a cool out of bounds play from X. We've seen them run all types of variations off this initially four across setup. This one starts out with Bluiett popping out to catch a pass, and then turning and tossing to Reynolds who does the same thing. Bluiett then screens for Dee Davis coming from the left corner to the left wing to receive a pass from Reynolds. After Reynolds passes, he starts towards the corner like he's screening for Abell, but then he makes a hard cut for the basket and the in-bounder, Myles Davis, is setting a back screen on his man for a lob.

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Oop for Reynolds.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is what I mean when I say Myles Davis is this team's best creator off the bounce and go-to offensive option.

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Myles Davis assists Farr.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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By the way, Xavier isn't the only team that struggles to defend ball screens. Here they gave the Jays a little taste of their own medicine.

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Stainbrook scores on the pick and roll.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is a first offensive possession out of a timeout, and it's an important one late in the game. X does a great job of recognizing that Kreklow is guarding Reynolds and making Creighton pay for that decision. Stainbrook gets it in the high post, and Roselle gives Stainbrook plenty of room to pass by sagging off.

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Reynolds scores off of a high low pass from Stainbrook.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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I pointed out his terrible pass in the first half, but this is a perfect entry pass by Bluiett in a critical moment.

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Reynolds scores in the post.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is a tremendous individual play by Reynolds, and another great example of how much of a difference his athleticism and rim protection make on the defensive end.

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Reynolds block.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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","mobileBody":"

Xavier suffered its worst defeat of the season Wednesday night, falling 79-72 in overtime to Creighton at the Cintas Center.

In recent home games, the Musketeers' routine has been to struggle early before turning it on in the second half and pulling away for the win. Wednesday night that never happened. Outside of four Remy Abell 3-pointers; the shots never started falling consistently, the defense never locked in fully and the team didn't corral key defensive rebounds in the final moments. Neither half was good, and Xavier left the game with more questions and doubt surrounding the team than at any point this season.

These words have been written about this team before, but they're worth repeating. This is a team that is built to win with its offense right now. Xavier leads the Big East in points per possession (1.16 ppp) and effective field goal percentage (57.5%) when playing at home. Wednesday night the Musketeers averaged just 0.99 points per possession and had an effective field percentage of 43.9 percent.

Neither team was great on offense. Creighton is averaging .90 points per possession on the road this season, but averaged 1.05 against the Musketeers' struggling defense.

The biggest reason for Xavier's offensive struggles is the most obvious: missed shots. The Musketeers have been struggling to put the ball in the basket, especially from the perimeter, since Big East play started. Trevon Bluiett went 0-for-6 from the floor, Myles Davis went 2-for-7 and the team went 6-for-19 from the perimeter. In addition, the entire team struggled to finish around the rim in the first half. Multiple guys missed high percentage shots from point blank range.

While the Musketeers missed a lot of easy shots they should have made, they also shot a poor percentage because of bad shot selection at times. This has been an issue for a few guys fairly regularly throughout Big East play, but it seemed like the whole team was guilty of it against Creighton.

James Farr has been struggling with his jump shot all season. What makes it even more strange is as his slump has continued he's seemingly hunted more shots. These are a couple of bad looks early in the shot clock for Farr.

And I'm not really sure what Dee Davis was doing here. This isn't good decision-making or feel on the offensive end. .

This one is an important possession for X. Only down two midway through the second half, Myles Davis just jacks an out-of-rhythm, contested three early in the shot clock.

The Musketeers only finished with 10 turnovers, so that's not what cost them the game. However, when they were especially struggling in the first half, they had some really bad freshmen mistakes that didn't help matters.

Then this is a key possession in the second half. Xavier leads by one with over six minutes. Reynolds has a mismatch in the post, so Stainbrook's man (Roselle) immediately comes to double. However, Creighton's philosophy on defense is to always sell out in the paint to stop easy layups at all costs and leave shooters. Reynolds has the right idea but makes the wrong read. He either had to hit Stainbrook right away, or fire opposite wing to Abell who Kreklow had abandoned to help on Stainbrook.

For the purposes of this article, it's always easier to break down the miscues on the defensive end when Xavier loses because a lot of times the offensive struggles really do come down to making shots. Defensively, there were a bunch of different issues that stood out, and these mistakes are magnified when the offense isn't performing.

Once again, Xavier's opponent shot it well from the perimeter. The Bluejays hit 10-of-24 (42%) from deep, and those threes came in a few different ways.

This first clip was Creighton's first points of the game. Now, Austin Chatman is not a very good 3-point shooter, but the Bluejays use Zach Hanson to set a quick back flare screen on Dee Davis, while Chatman spaces to the corner and gets a wide open three. It would seem that Stainbrook doesn't communicate this well enough or early enough to Davis, and he clearly offers no help once Davis is screened.

This might go down as the most egregious sin of the season on defense for the Musketeers. A slow moving Stainbrook reads a dribble handoff coming from Will Artino and begins calling out the screen to Brandon Randolph. Artino notices that Stainbrook isn't showing him any respect with the ball, and drives straight to the rim for a dunk. Will Artino.

This play is the result of Creighton putting four shooters on the court with Artino. He runs and screens for all of them, and they space along the perimeter waiting for their shot. On this specific play, he runs a pick-and-roll at the elbow with Chatman while the rest of Xavier's defenders are out along the perimeter guarding shooters. Normally, a guy like Bluiett who is guarding the four here would be able to offer some help by bumping Artino, but because he's out on a shooter in Toby Hegner and Creighton wisely runs the ball screen near the free-throw line instead of out high at the top of the key it doesn't offer an opportunity for Xavier to help. This is probably what led to Xavier switching everything later in the game.

Then after giving up that easy pick-and-roll to Artino, Reynolds tries to recover early this time after hedging the screen to take that pass away. It results in him leaving before Remy Abell is fully recovered, and James Milliken uses the head start to his advantage on the drive.

Xavier tried to go zone for a stretch, but had to get back out of it rather quickly because of transition defense. This play is just brutal. The entire defense is back before Devin Brooks crosses midcourt, but J.P. Macura and Brandon Randolph are worried about getting to their spot in the zone and Stainbrook is moving just barely fast enough to catch Brooks whizzing by for a layup as he turns around. No one stops the ball.

This is the very next possession. X again is going to set up in its zone, but Brooks is pushing it. Reynolds looks like he's going to try and stop the ball, but then kind of leaves it. Macura is initially in position to stop the ball, but then hops out of Reynolds' and Brooks' way to get back into his spot in the zone. When Myles Davis and Randolph collapse at the last second, it leads an easy kick out to Chatman. X caught a break with him missing this one.

And a third straight poor defensive trip in transition leads to a three for Rick Kreklow.

More of X just not being ready to defend in the zone leads to another three for Kreklow.

X switched back to man-to-man here. One thing Creighton did a nice job of was spreading Xavier's defense out by overloading certain areas of the court with shooters on the opposite side of where they were running ball screens. This puts the Musketeers in a predicament with the way they hedge screens. If they're going to do that, then they are forced to make a decision between bringing a third defender to help on the roll man or getting out on Creighton's shooters. The Bluejays did as good of job as any team X has faced at exploiting this issue with great spacing. On this one, Reynolds sees the ball screen happening on the right side of the court as his man (Kreklow) is cutting through to the opposite corner. He decides to stay and take away the easy pick-and-roll from the screener Hanson, but that leaves Kreklow in the corner for a three.

This is an example of poor communication and probably even more so just confusion or a lack of recognition on Trevon Bluiett's part. Myles Davis ended up on Kreklow earlier in the possession somehow, and as Kreklow heads towards Brooks for a dribble-handoff Davis expects a switch. Bluiett wasn't on the same page. Davis switches off to Brooks at the same time that Bluiett jumps through the dribble-handoff to get out on Brooks, leaving Kreklow open six feet away for a another three.

On this one, Reynolds seems to turn towards Myles Davis for a split second to say something right at the same as Devin Brooks is running off a high ball-screen set by Roselle. Had Reynolds seen it earlier, he would have had time to react and bump Roselle to offer more help for Stainbrook. Stainbrook doesn't do a very good job of owning the screen and then allows a passing lane for Brooks to find Roselle cutting to the rim. To top it off, Reynolds helps just in time to foul Roselle as he's making a layup. Again, having four perimeter players on the court helps Creighton in these situations.

We talked about on the podcast how sometimes the switching defense in the second half had Xavier's bigs out of position to rebound Creighton's misses. But this isn't that. This is one where X had Stainbrook and Reynolds in position, and Stainbrook was beat by Roselle for the rebound. This may have been the worst part about Xavier's performance in this game - the Musketeers' bigs weren't better than Creighton's bigs.

This is the last play of the first half. Mack subbed in Randolph, Austin, Abell, Myles Davis and Stainbrook for this possession. Stainbrook is late to react to Roselle going up to set the ball screen, so by the time he gets there he has to try and guard Brooks coming downhill off the screen with a two dribble head start. Brooks leaves him in the dust and lays it in easily. Reynolds and Farr each had two fouls, but does Farr having two fouls really matter with the limited minutes he's playing anyway?

Creighton starts the second half the same way it played throughout the first, with Stainbrook's man (Hanson) going to ball screen and shooters spacing the floor. Dee Davis is matched up with Kreklow this time. He knows he has to recover quick to the shooter, so while he is initially in position to hold off Hanson until Stainbrook can recover he actually ends up leaving to get out on Kreklow right as Brooks is whipping a pass to Hanson on the roll.

At the beginning of this play, Stainbrook and Farr switch due to a screen away from the ball, leaving Stainbrook on Avery Dingman. When Dingman catches the ball at the top of the key, Stainbrook has a weird lunging closeout that Dingman attacks immediately. Dee Davis is in help position, but when he has to cut Dingman off it leads to a wide open three for Chatman.

This is pretty inexcusable for Farr. He actually does a pretty good job of making Roselle catch it off the block and a good six feet or so from the rim, but then he lets him back him all the way to the front of the charge circle and flip an easy and-one over the front of the rim.

Watch Dee Davis and James Farr in the lane at the beginning of this play. They're both back and communicating who to take. Roselle (7-footer) is directly in front of them and Avery Dingman is near mid-court approaching the right wing. For some reason, Davis points to the wing and tells Farr to jump out and get Dingman, leaving him to guard Roselle. And then, exactly what you think would happen happens.

Here's another instance where a lack of a rim protector hurts X. Everyone does a pretty good job defensively. Abell is with Milliken on the drive right up until the point that Roselle (Stainbrook's man) hip checks him and seals him out of the play, and Stainbrook isn't a threat to alter the shot or even step up and help on this play.

Here's a similar play with Reynolds in the game to challenge the shot instead.

Here's another play where Creighton puts Stainbrook through a few ball screens on the same possession. At the end of the shot clock, he's just late to arrive to hedge or own the screen. Brooks is already coming downhill and is easily able to split Stainbrook and Dee Davis with a crossover that gets him into the lane for an easy floater. That's pretty demoralizing after defending well for the first 29 seconds of the shot clock.

More bad communication on a switch without a screen. These seem to trip Bluiett up.

Here Creighton sets two screens to get Stainbrook on Chatman. He keeps him in front initially this time, but he backs up way too much and allows Chatman to rise for the easy jumper. He had help in both gaps and should have pressed up in that situation.

Chatman ties it up with six minutes left on this one. Dee Davis receives basically a running screen from Roselle in transition, so Stainbrook picks up Chatman. This is very similar to the play above. He backs way too far up with help to either side of him and allows Chatman to bury the open mid-range jumper.

It looks like Xavier is switching everything here, or at least one through four with Reynolds at the four. He and Abell immediately switch without Roselle even having to set a screen. That leaves Abell guarding the 7-footer, and it ends in Creighton taking the lead with less than a minute to play.

Here are some other random positive plays for the Musketeers that caught my attention:

I like this play by Xavier. Knowing Creighton is more worried about sagging into the lane and playing help defense, Dee Davis waves Abell on to cut through the baseline, and then whips a pass to Bluiett at the top of the key. Brooks doesn't chase Abell hard along the baseline and Reynolds times him up and ends up sealing him with a post up as he's trying to get out to Abell.

This whole game was a poor effort for Xavier. One guy who can't be faulted for trying though is Jalen Reynolds. He wasn't perfect but I'll be damned if he wasn't trying. This moment had me laughing for at least three possessions.

Follow Reynolds this whole possession and watch his motor.

Then on the very next play, he does this and takes himself out of the game by picking up his third foul. Again, can't fault his effort but these are the plays he has to learn to avoid. The chances of corralling that loose ball wasn't worth him having to leave the game.

This was a cool out of bounds play from X. We've seen them run all types of variations off this initially four across setup. This one starts out with Bluiett popping out to catch a pass, and then turning and tossing to Reynolds who does the same thing. Bluiett then screens for Dee Davis coming from the left corner to the left wing to receive a pass from Reynolds. After Reynolds passes, he starts towards the corner like he's screening for Abell, but then he makes a hard cut for the basket and the in-bounder, Myles Davis, is setting a back screen on his man for a lob.

This is what I mean when I say Myles Davis is this team's best creator off the bounce and go-to offensive option.

By the way, Xavier isn't the only team that struggles to defend ball screens. Here they gave the Jays a little taste of their own medicine.

This is a first offensive possession out of a timeout, and it's an important one late in the game. X does a great job of recognizing that Kreklow is guarding Reynolds and making Creighton pay for that decision. Stainbrook gets it in the high post, and Roselle gives Stainbrook plenty of room to pass by sagging off.

I pointed out his terrible pass in the first half, but this is a perfect entry pass by Bluiett in a critical moment.

This is a tremendous individual play by Reynolds, and another great example of how much of a difference his athleticism and rim protection make on the defensive end.

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