Xavier suffered its first defeat of the season Thursday at Villanova, 95-64.
However, the biggest loss may have come in the form of an Edmond Sumner injury that occurred before the first media timeout. Sumner was hit hard by Villanova's Josh Hart on a drive to the basket in transition, and suffered a scary fall that included Nova's Kris Jenkins landing on his head. Sumner didn't move for minutes, and was eventually carried off the court on a stretcher.
FS1's Gus Johnson reported at the time that Sumner squeezed his teammates' hands before being carried off, and then added more good news before the start of the second half: "Edmond Sumner is in the hospital, he is awake, he is moving and everything is working for him. He was scared, he's a freshman, but he's OK"
Chris Mack was clearly having a hard time talking about it without getting choked up in his postgame radio interview with Joe Sunderman and Byron Larkin.
"I think he's going to be fine," Mack said. "I'm not at the hospital, so obviously I'm getting second hand information. He was moving his extremities and talking. He didn't know what happened. We feel like he's going to be OK."
"It's really hard to talk about. It's probably the scariest thing I've ever had in coaching. To see him go down like that, the worst goes through your mind. We were trying to snap him out of it. I'd rather not talk about it."
Leading 4-3 at the time of Sumner's fall, the Wildcats followed with a 13-2 run as Xavier went 0-for-2 from the field with four turnovers during that stretch. Villanova's lead reached as high as 20 by the under eight-minute media timeout, and settled at 18 by intermission, 48-30. In the second half, it got as high as 33.
"You try to do the best you can," Mack said. "Those guys watched one of their best friends go down in an awful way. By the time I left, Edmond was talking a very little bit and I felt like rather than me sort of express that to the team, I wanted them to see it first hand. I don't know if that was the right thing or the wrong thing to do, but this team is a very close team and I knew if it was my teammate I would have wanted to see his eyes and see how he was doing."
"From that point on, we just turned the ball over way too many times. That really set us on our heels and we were never able to recover."
Just about everything that could have gone wrong for Xavier did in the first half: Sumner's injury swung the matchups clearly in favor of the Wildcats, the Musketeers couldn't handle pressure (12 first half turnovers), Nova hit 8-of-15 attempts from three despite being a 31 percent 3-point shooting team, and the Wildcats negated the Musketeers' only advantage by out-rebounding them.
Xavier struggled to stop the penetration of Villanova's multiple skilled weapons, and senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono was on fire from deep, hitting 7-of-14 threes for the game, including a few extremely difficult looks in the first half to get the Wildcats going. Much like last year, they were able to spread XU's defense out and drive to score or kick to open spot up shooters for easy looks, regardless of whether the Musketeers were in man-to-man or the 1-3-1 zone.
Arcidiacono finished with a game-high 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting to go with eight assists and two steals.
Offensively the Musketeers didn't knock down shots - 39.2 percent from the field and 6-of-19 from 3-point range - and weren't able to gain enough of an advantage inside. James Farr was effective when he got his opportunities, but good defensive pressure kept Xavier's backcourt from consistently getting into its offense.
"Villanova just has a way of pressuring the ball relentlessly," Mack said. "Our ball doesn't move as quickly from side-to-side. We had too many guys playing frazzled rather than playing poised. Had Edmond been out there, maybe it would have been different - our mindset might not have allowed us to cave in. But when we caved on the offensive end, the turnovers really opened up the game and from that point we never had enough in our tank to catch back up."
Farr finished with 15 points (6-11 FG) and seven rebounds. Jalen Reynolds added six points (1-2 FG) and five rebounds. Villanova center Daniel Ochefu finished with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Kris Jenkins added 13 points (2-3 3PT) and helped prevent the Musketeers from completely decimating the Wildcats on the boards by battling for rebounds.
All five of Villanova's starters finished in double-digits.
A loss on the road at Villanova is far from a damaging blow to Xavier's resume, and the Musketeers built up plenty of wiggle room with their undefeated non-conference slate. However, it does eliminate their chances for a top five ranking in Monday's polls, and it likely precludes them from further effusive praise from the national media touting them as a national title contender.
More concerning for Mack's squad is the seeming loss of Sumner for at least Saturday's game against No. 9 Butler.
Sumner is the Musketeers' second-leading scorer at 11.7 points per game to go with 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists, and their backcourt clearly struggles with pressure when he's not in the game.
"Short term, we have no idea," Mack said about Sumner. "Long term we feel like everything is going to be fine, but again, I'm passing along second hand information."
*Update - 2:45 pm* Mack is now reporting postgame that Sumner is walking and talking at the hospital, but is experiencing headaches.
*Update - 3:17 pm* Mack just tweeted that Sumner will be joining the team on its charter flight home.