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NCAA Basketball Atlantic 10 BasketballXavier Musketeers

Rapid Reaction: Xavier Musketeers vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Randy Sartin – US Presswire

On a 13-player team with seven freshmen and two sophomores, the concept of finishing games can be a foreign concept. This isn’t high school anymore, pouring on the points in the first half and coasting in the second won’t work.

After the Xavier Musketeers‘ 51-47 loss to the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday night, Xavier owns four losses in its last five games, all of which the Musketeers led at the half.

Pick your poison: Xavier didn’t shoot well from 3-point range, didn’t take advantage of defensive lapses and had trouble holding onto the ball — all of which are trends in the Musketeers’ losses this season.

Oddly enough, though, Xavier did rectify its free-throw woes, if just for one night. The Musketeers went 10 of 13 from the line against a Vols team of comparable size.

Use the term “size” lightly, though. Neither team has a player taller than 6-foot-9 and Xavier’s 6’6 Justin Martin had a game-high 12 boards. The Musketeers held a dominant 42-28 edge in rebounds but Xavier’s transition game usually led to turnovers.

Brad Redford had the only 3-ball for the Musketeers and that’s not nearly good enough to secure a win in the NCAA. Most players with that kind of range take at least four or five shots from deep and nobody outside of Redford attempted more than one.

Xavier may have solved its free-throw woes on the day but with a rebounding margin like the one the Musketeers worked against Tennessee, more threes should have been on the menu.

The Musketeers did have bright spots on the night but the time for moral victories is running out and young players with the talent the Xavier freshmen have need to be held to a higher standard.

Freshman guard and leading-scorer Semaj Christon was pressured into making terrible shots and even worse decisions on defense, which ultimately led to his fouling out of the game. Christon finished the night with six points and Travis Taylor (12 points) was the only Musketeer in double figures.

If Xavier plans on hanging around in the Atlantic 10, 47-point scoring outputs and mailing it in after halftime won’t cut it.

Mike Gillmeister can be reached at mgillmei@gmail.com or on Twitter: @mgillmei