NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Xavier coach Chris Mack was a little worried about a letdown for his fifth-ranked Musketeers against Seton Hall on Sunday, just four days after they beat No. 1 Villanova.
"Sure, there was concern," Mack said after his team was soundly defeated 90-81 by the Pirates in a game that was really not as close as the final score might indicate. "Our energy level was good in practice on Friday and Saturday. You think you're ready to play and then we get this."
The young Musketeers not only couldn't match their intensity level from Wednesday night, they were never in the game.
Seton Hall, needing a marquee win to ensure its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2006, jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first 2 minutes and really never looked back.
"They were amped up and played really hard," said Mack, whose team entered Sunday having won four straight and nine of 10. "They had a sense of desperation you could feel."
While the Pirates led from the start, Mack said it was a 4-minute stretch late in the first half that led to the undoing of the Musketeers (25-4, 13-4 Big East).
"From the 8-minute mark to the 4-minute mark we really went south," Mack said. "They have a lot of really good athletic players. They got a lot of deflections and those led to easy baskets. They're a top 20 defensive team and we knew that coming in. We left so many points out there, with post-ups we missed and layups we missed. We counted out that we missed 17 layups. You miss those shots, it's deflating and you start to feel sorry for yourself. That's what happened."
The Musketeers shot a dismal 39 percent (30 of 77) from the field and 37 percent from 3-point range (10 of 27).
Trevon Bluiett and James Farr both scored 17 points to lead Xavier, while Myles Davis added 15, most of which came in second-half desperation time.
Farr admitted the Musketeers were flat after the emotional win over the top-ranked Wildcats.
"Of course there was," Farr said. "After you beat the No. 1 team in the country, you go to a Seton Hall game where you're predicted to win. You want to win but Seton Hall is a very good team, so the credit goes to them. They've got some very good guys over there. We didn't do our part tonight. It was visible.
"They scored 90 points. That's a lot of points for a single game. Like I said, it was very visible that we didn't do our part on defense. "
Seton Hall (21-7, 11-5) all but clinched its first NCAA Tournament berth in a decade with the win.
Desi Rodriguez had career highs in points with 27 and rebounds with 12. Isaiah Whitehead added 22 points, including a pull-up 3-pointer from almost 40 feet away, and Angel Delgado added 17 points.
The Pirates, who have not been the NCAA Tournament since 2006, had a season-high point total and shot 50 percent from the field in winning their fourth straight and eighth of nine.
The Pirates were never threatened in the second half with Xavier using a late spurt to make the score close.
Xavier: The Musketeers came into the game No. 13 nationally with a plus-8.2 rebounding margin. It had been outrebounded only twice in 28 games. The Hall became the third with a 44-39 advantage.
Seton Hall: The Pirates got big games from unexpected players. Derrick Gordon, starting on senior day, had eight points, six rebounds and two assists, while Ismael Sanogo had five points, nine rebounds and two assists.
Xavier hosts Creighton on Saturday.