Rushed Reaction: #10 Xavier 67, #7 Notre Dame 63Posted by mpoindexter on March 17th, 2012
- Don’t try to Get Away with Anything at the end of a close Game. Officials in this year’s NCAA Tournament games have made a point of calling small violations in the final seconds of games. Down by two with 2.8 seconds left on the clock, Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins went to the line for a 1-and-1. His first shot went in, but an official erased it and the following attempt by calling a lane violation on Notre Dame. Then, on the ensuing play, the official called a flagrant foul on Notre Dame for tugging on a Xavier player’s jersey before the ball was put into play. Xavier’s Dezmine Wells took his foul shots, icing the game. We weren’t as likely to see these calls in previous years, but it’s obvious that the NCAA is making an effort to have their officials call the games consistently start to finish, regardless of the score. This may initially lead to some head-scratching, but it’s better for college basketball in the long run.
- This was the Tu Holloway We’ve Been Waiting For. Xavier’s star senior Holloway has been solid this year, but he hasn’t played quite as well as the All-American season many expected. Holloway lived up to the hype against Notre Dame though, putting in 25 points with a 10-for-15 shooting performance.
- Offense, Offense, Offense. The Musketeers and Fighting Irish played hard on defense, but today’s contest was really a slow-paced shootout. Notre Dame would usually win scoring 1.09 points per possession, but Xavier managed a stunning 1.22 points per possession. The Musketeers took 44 shots on the night, and 22 of them went in. That type of efficiency will get you a long way in March.
Star of the Game. Tu Holloway, Xavier. As stated above, Holloway hasn’t lived up to the very high expectations set for him this year. However, he carried the Musketeers down the stretch, most importantly hitting a late-game running floater over two Notre Dame players while fading away from the basket to put his team up by one with 22 seconds left. The NCAA Tournament is about narratives almost as much as it is about wins and losses, and today’s performance against Notre Dame may be the first step to Tu Holloway reversing the negative one that he and his team have dealt with since the Cincinnati brawl.
Sights and Sounds. Notre Dame and Xavier played a fantastic, competitive game, but most in attendance seemed exhausted after experiencing Lehigh’s prior victory over Duke. The Lehigh cheering section went off to celebrate, the large Duke contingent went off to forget, and what was left was a sparsely-populated coliseum that felt more like a high school crowd than anything else. The 10:15 start time was late, and the basketball was slow and methodical. Yet, at the end, well after midnight in Greensboro, as the two teams traded baskets and the clock wound down, the crowd rose and the Greensboro Coliseum, once again, became electric.
What’s Next? The Lehigh Mountain Hawks. And if today’s UNC Tar Heel favoring crowd is any indication, the Musketeers will be playing against a team that has the crowd behind them. Lehigh is playing with tons of confidence at the moment, but Xavier should look to use their slight size advantage to their benefit against the Mountain Hawks. Xavier could be a man down, though, as starting forward Andre Walker spent much of the second half at the end of the bench. Walker caught an errant forearm to the face before hitting the floor hard. Walker and his 28 minutes per game would be a huge loss for Xavier on Sunday.