Xavier’s post-brawl freefall continued on Wednesday. But the worst may finally be over.
An 80-70 loss to La Salle won’t sit well with coach Chris Mack, the Musketeers or X fans, but given that they had lost four of five entering the game, were only favored by 2½ points and predicted to lose on kenpom.com, the loss shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
“Right now our team is not capable of playing with sustained energy. It’s plagued us in the last four or five games and will continue to until some players are willing to sort of do what it takes to change it,” Mack told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The way Xavier continues to play is mystifying.
The Musketeers (9-5) stayed close until midway through the first half when La Salle (11-4) put together two nice runs, including a 10-0 run in a 90-second span that broke the game open. Xavier had a few chances to recover – it trailed 74-69 with just under two minutes left – but a turnover, two missed shots and La Salle free throws ended that.
Saturday should bring happier times, though. Xavier plays at Fordham, then hosts Duquesne, St. Bonaventure and St. Joe’s before they head to Dayton on Jan. 21.
Those are four games Xavier can win, should win … and probably have to win if it wants to avoid stressful times in March.
The Musketeers still have enough talent to reach the Elite Eight. But everything that could’ve gone wrong since the Cincinnati brawl on Dec. 10 pretty much has.
This isn’t the bottom. (That would be missing the NCAA tournament.) It just feels like it. That feeling will pass. And soon.
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