Familiar struggles plague No. 5 Xavier as they fall at Seton Hall

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

It had all the makings of a letdown game.

A Sunday afternoon tip on the road against a good team in desperate need of a win to get into the NCAA tournament just days after No. 5 Xavier landed their biggest win as a member of the Big East, when they knocked off No. 1 Villanova.

So it really shouldn’t be all that much of a surprise that Seton Hall was able to land a 90-81 win over the Musketeers that punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament. Desi Rodriguez led the way with 27 points and 12 boards while Isaiah Whitehead chipped in with 22 points, five assists and four blocks.

These things happen in college basketball. There’s not much of a reason to get too worked up over the loss, mainly because Seton Hall is a really good team playing at home in a big game. But there are two things that probably should be noted from the Xavier perspective:

  1. For starters, the Musketeers got worked over inside by a smaller and less physical Pirate team. In the first half, when Seton Hall opened up a 45-26 lead, the Pirates grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, had 16 second-chance points and scored 24 points in the paint. That shouldn’t happen to a team that has Jalen Reynolds and James Farr on the roster, but that’s an issue that has more to do with effort than ability. In other word, that was a product of the situation.
  2. What may be more concerning is that Xavier, once again, exhibited the issues they have with their point guard play. This was different than the loss to Creighton, however. That was mainly an issue of their inability to defend point guard Maurice Watson. The issue today was that Xavier didn’t have any that could settle things down. When this team gets rattled, they get sped up. There are quick shots and bad possessions and an offense that looks like the team doesn’t really know what they’re supposed to be doing. As talented as Edmond Sumner is, as good of a shooter as Myles Davis is, there really isn’t a point guard on the roster capable of settling things down and initiating offense or getting the ball into actions where they can be effective.

The latter should be a far bigger concern for Musketeer fans than the former, because it’s an issue of personnel. Effort is fixable. Their personnel is not.