Let's hope the saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” holds true for the Xavier Musketeers. Las Vegas can make for a true rags to riches story, but it can also claim some of the best. And Xavier fell victim to the Sin City.
Basketball is often said to be a game of runs, and this one was no exception. The Musketeers and Arizona State Sun Devils jostled to get the lead in a very intense opening first minutes of the game. Xavier went on a 10-0 run that ended with just over six minutes in the first half, but that was squashed with ASU’s 15-2 run to end the half. It shrunk Xavier’s lead to just two going into the locker room.
Arizona State’s shifty guards posed a huge problem for the Musketeers, who couldn't find an answer to them. ASU also held the prolific Trevon Bluiett to just 11 points, which is well below his normal scoring output.
The Muskies looked frustrated in the second half, mainly because Arizona State was unconscious while shooting the ball. It seemed like almost every shot they took went in, from deep threes to circus and-one shots.
The Sun Devils fired on all cylinders to upset the 15th-ranked Musketeers behind a career-high 40-point outburst by Tra Holder, who absolutely dominated this game scoring in just about every way imaginable.
Xavier did its best in trying to keep the game within reach, but it seemed to force way too many shots in a hasty attempt at a comeback.
This game was largely a tale of two halves with the score being tied six times and nine lead changes.
Macura: 23 points, 5 rebounds
Kanter: 12 points (6-6 FG)
Bluiett: 11 points, 6 assists
Holder: 40 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
Shannon Evans II: 22 points, 4 assists
Trials and Tribulations
This won’t be the first loss that the Musketeers take this season, and right around the corner is one of the toughest two-game stretches of the year with games against Baylor and Cincinnati coming up next week. Xavier made its nonconference schedule tough on purpose to prepare for what is shaping up to be a grueling Big East season. While this wasn't the most desirable outcome for the Musketeers, they lost to an ASU team that can be a serious sleeper contender to win the Pac-12 and make the NCAA Tournament.
Xavier has to play Xavier basketball
Xavier plays well when they can control the pace of the game and play to their strengths. Once the lead seemed to escape the Musketeers, the team seemed all out of sorts throwing up shots that they wouldn’t normally take. ASU made it impossible for the Musketeers to play their game because of how often they were scoring. Oddly enough, Xavier, who is known to be a sound defensive unit, didn’t necessarily have a bad game on that end despite giving up 102 points.
Turn a negative into a positive
Xavier’s next game against Baylor will have important implications. In the sense that it provides them an opportunity to see how they respond coming off its first loss of the season. Luckily, the game Tuesday night will be played in front of an amiable home crowd. Hopefully, the team can take this game for what it was and bounce back.
There should be no concerned Xavier fans out there, because it is still really early in the season. In general, several top teams fell this week, and the Musketeers didn’t have a bad showing. They just simply got outplayed by an underrated player and team. Xavier has the talent to compete. Their efforts just weren’t enough Friday night against the Sun Devils.