By Andy Mac Williams, 1/7/2020

Game # 2 of 3 game BIG EAST homestand Wednesday-XU-SHU at Cintas(8:30PM-FS1) w/ Thom Brennaman doing TV play-by-play. BE Game # 1 at 6:30 has St Johns at Georgetown. Muskies are home again Saturday afternoon against Creighton( 2PM-Big FOX). X is 1-1 in BE w/ Seton Hall 2-0( wins at DePaul and home vs Georgetown. Pirates 10-4 overall, #25 USA Today Coaches' Poll, #25 in NET. Great opportunity for Xavier(# 40 NET). Both Seton Hall and Creighton would be NET Quadrant 1 victories. X is a 68-66 favorite at home over SHU. Muskies 9-0 at Cintas w/ a 13 gamed win streak dating back to last February.


Both teams play downhill attack the rim grinding half court smash mouth basketball scoring primarily 2 by 2 w/ plenty of FT points. Both defenses are gritty and stingy allowing 64PPG. X is #20 NCAA Defensive Efficiency while Seton Hall is #7 in that points/ possession category.

Both teams are experienced. Myles Powell was Preseason BE POY and is this week's BIG East Top Player after 27 and 15 points in wins at DePaul and home against G-town. Powell missed two games w/ a concussion.

SHU showed resilience w/ a HUGE "W" over # 7 Maryland w/o Powell 52-46 focusing on shut down defense. Sr PG Quincy Mc Knight locked up Terp star Anthony Cowan in the Maryland upset.

SHU has won 4 in a row w/ Mc Knight averaging 15 points-6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds. Which XU guard does he mark? You might see a small Muskie line-up w/ Q, Scruggs and Frosh Kyky Tandy(4 "3s" vs St Johns for 12 bench points) to give 10 year Hall coach Kevin Willard some knotty match-up decisions. Any way to get more PT for flame thrower Tandy.

Two Muskie BIGS might play at the same time? Tyrique plus Frosh Zach Freemantle? Willard chances defenses frequently.

Travis Steele is making it simple for his troops-just attack the rim and run XU's stuff-don't hang back to decipher the "D". That's what Willard wants-indecision w/ the shot clock ticking into single digits then panic and a bad shot.

Steele is upset w/ turnovers in the loss at Villanova and the win over St Johns(14 and 19). 11 TOs or less is the goal. Empty possessions are the enemy(no shot or a bad shot i.e a contested "2"-forced "3"-anything w/o a post touch first except a fast break dunk or lay-up.

X can bury most teams going 2 by 2 w/ 25 or more FT tries. "3s" make life easier( like 9-27 vs St Johns w/ Tandy knocking down 4 of 6 mostly in scrambled transition situations. X has won 4 of the last 6 vs Seton Hall despite Powell averaging 19PPG. Naji Marshall dropped 28 at SHU last February w/ Tyrique going large for an 18 and 15 double-double in a 70-69 win.

7-2 Romero Gil is a game changer for SHU averaging 3 blocks/game # 9 NCAA.He's coming off a career game against Georgetown(17 points-8 boards-4 blocks). 7 footer Ike Agiabu(Florida State transfer) plays some also. 6-11 Sandro Mamukalashvelli is out w/ a broken hand( 11PPG-6.5 rebounds).

Sophs Jared Rhoden and Anthony Nelson are players at SF and PG. Wing Myles Cale made 5 "3s" vs Georgetown. Willard plays 9 w/ BIG Sandro Mamu hurt.

Travis Steele can go 9 deep including 6-8 Sophomore Dontarius Jones who hopefully had a break out game vs St Johns w/ career highs( 26 minutes-6 points-8 rebounds). Don has clawed his way into the mix w/ hard practicing and better conditioning . He has a nose for the ball-is defending better-got to the FT line 7 times and can shoot the "3" if practice sniping means anything.

Seton Hall is 2-0 in BIG EAST-a half game back of Providence after their 81-80 overtime win Tuesday in Milwaukee vs Marquette. PC is now 3-0 w 2 road wins. Butler(14-1, # 6 AP and Coaches Top 25s is 2-0 also.

Muskies are pumped and prepared!!

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