Game Recap: Xavier 77, Alabama 74

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Musketeers Overcome Twelve Point Defecit in Road WIn

Isaiah Philmore and Matt Stainbrook began their collegiate careers at different institutions. Opportunities for wins like Saturday’s 77-74 victory over Alabama is the type of game that brought each player to Xavier. Philmore and Stainbrook each scored 17 points and made several key plays in the final five minutes as Xavier secured a key non-conference road victory in Tuscaloosa.

The win marks Xavier’s fifth SEC road win in their last six tries, and included a twelve-point comeback. Facing a 44-32 deficit following a Shannon Hale free throw with 16:26 remaining in the contest, Xavier coach Chris Mack decided to mix up defenses. Adding a full-court press and 2-3 zone defenses to their traditional man-to-man, the Musketeers flustered Alabama on the defensive end. The Crimson Tide went without a field goal for over nine minutes late in the second half, allowing Xavier’s big men to take over the game.

Two key focuses for Xavier coming into the game were 3-point offense and limiting turnovers. The Musketeers succeed in the latter, committing a season-low six turnovers. Taking care of the ball, combined with 17 offensive rebounds helped the road team overcome a mediocre 5-15 conversion rate from downtown. Despite only shooting 39.7 percent from the field for the contest, Xavier managed 1.20 points per possession, according to Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings, their highest output since November 25th against Abilene Christian.

The offense was not in sync the first 20 minutes, as Xavier took a 33-26 deficit into the locker room. The struggles continued into the initial moments of the first half, with Stainbrook failing to convert an open layup on the first possession after halftime. His struggles would be temporary, as the Western Michigan transfer rebounded a missed Justin Martin trifecta on Xavier’s next possession getting fouled in the process.

Late in the game, Xavier ran their offense through Stainbrook, as he converted an and-one at the 5:01 mark and layup at 3:50 to give Xavier a 4 point lead entering the under-four television timeout. Xavier’s first possession following the media timeout again went through Stainbrook, as a nice pass to Philmore led to two free throws. Philmore went 9-for-12 from the stripe, as Xavier converted 22-of-28 free throws. Alabama could not mount much of a rally from that point, getting only as close as one on a 3-pointer with under one second remaining. A quick foul and two converted free throws by Dee Davis completed the scoring.

The win has helped Xavier steady the ship after dropping three consecutive games in the Bahamas during the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Sitting at 9-3, the Musketeers’ final non-conference game is a home game against Wake Forest, next Saturday at the Cintas Center. Regardless of the outcome of the game, Xavier will have its fewest non-conference losses in a season under Chris Mack.

Grading the Musketeers

Dee Davis

B

After missing a pair of three-pointers early, Davis scored 10 of his 12 points in the last 11:05, beginning with a 3-pointer to trim Alabama’s lead to five.

Semaj Christon

C

Xavier’s best player never got in to the game as a scorer, but contributed in other facets, dishing out 5 assists to go along with 3 steals. The dominance of Philmore and Stainbrook meant less end of shot clock dependence on Christon.

Justin Martin

D

Xavier fans have become accustomed to Martin’s wild inconsistency. Coming off his best game as a Musketeer, Martin was never mentally into this game. He finished with four points and three turnovers.

Isaiah Philmore

A

Playing in front of several family members, Philmore kept Xavier in the game when the rest of the offense was stagnant. He finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, committing no turnovers in the process.

Matt Stainbrook

A-

A couple missed bunnies keeps Stainbrook from an A. Regardless, his dominance inside as a low-post scorer and passer was the main reason Xavier was able to close out the Crimson Tide.

Myles Davis

B-

The freshman only converted 2 of 7 field goal attempts, but his presence as a shooter spread out the floor, giving the posts more space to operate. Davis also had two free throws to expand Xavier’s lead to four points with six seconds remaining.

James Farr

B+

Much of Farr’s 17 minutes were uneventful, but his two 3-pointers in a span of three possessions following the under 8 media timeout cut Alabama’s lead to one and gave Xavier energy and confidence. Farr’s emergence as a pick and pop threat has been one an unexpected development.

Jalen Reynolds

C-

You can see the potential with Reynolds and his physical tools, but he is still transitioning to the college game. Reynolds was in poor position several times on help-side defense, and committed 3 fouls in nine minutes of play.

Brandon Randolph

D

Randolph forced some wild shots and finished scoreless. His value was serviceable ball handling when Dee Davis needed rest.

Chris Mack

B+

In the first half, Mack’s teams were failing to convert open shots, but limited turnovers and dominated the offensive glass. In the second half, Mack frequently switched defensive looks, flustering the Crimson Tide in the final ten minutes of the contest.



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