St Johns Xavier Basketball

Xavier’s Semaj Christon is a stud, and why Marquette fans should be very worred

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All anyone is going to want to talk about after Xavier’s 86-79 win over Marquette on Thursday night is how the Golden Eagles appear destined for the wrong side of the bubble this year.

And it makes sense, as weird as it sounds saying that about a team coached by Buzz Williams. Marquette is now 9-7 on the season. They’ve played seven good teams this season and lost all seven games. Their best win is either George Washington in the Wooden Legacy tournament in California or their win over DePaul in Big East play. That’s not much to write home about.

The biggest problem?

This isn’t last year’s Big East. There just aren’t as many good wins available for the Golden Eagles to get in league play. They have two games left against Villanova, and beating the Wildcats this year will definitely move the needle. They will also get another crack at Creighton, as well as Xavier, at home. Toss is two games against a very mediocre Georgetown team, and that’s it.

Those six games, two of which many not even be beneficial.

It’s way too early in the season to write anyone off, but the Golden Eagles are playing with fire.

Back to my point, that’s going to be the topic that gets most of the play from this game on Thursday night, and that won’t necessarily be fair, not after Semaj Christon put together what is arguably his best game as a Musketeer. He finished with a career-high 28 points, hitting 8-for-10 from the floor, 9-for-10 from the free throw line and all three of his threes, a notable fact for a player whose perimeter shooting is his biggest issue.

Christon, quite simply, was awesome, but the number you’ll really want to pay attention is the one turnover he had.

Because that was the first turnover that Christon had in almost three weeks.

With just under 14 minutes left in the first half of Xavier’s win over Alabama on Dec. 21st, Christon turned the ball over. It took 140 minutes of gametime in which he notched 25 assists — with three full games in between — before Christon turned the ball over again.

This from a guy that averaged 3.6 turnovers as a freshman.

My point?

Xavier had an abysmal trip to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis, but they’ve now won eight straight games (including Cincinnati, Alabama and Marquette) and have their all-american caliber point guard playing like the potential first round pick that he is.

The Musketeers are streaking, which is why their trip to Creighton on Sunday is so intriguing. They’ve played their first three Big East games at home. Can they get it done on the road, too?

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: