Andy Mac: Scouting Xavier-Ohio State
By Andy Mac Williams, 11/17/2021

SCOUTING Xavier-Ohio State - Gavitt Games (BIG EAST vs Big Ten)-Thursday Nov. 18 at Cintas-6:30 PM Tip on FS1. Buckeyes are 3-0-rated #19 AP Top 25-#14 in KenPom. KP has XU winning 71-70 giving Muskies 51% chance of victory-playing at home without injured power forward Zach Freemantle. OSU is deep w/ a viable 9 or 10 man rotation. Their front line is burly and experienced. Plenty of guard talent-but a work in progress w/ PG C.J. Walker and 2G Duane Washington(17PPG) departed. Bucks among Big Ten favorites w/ Michigan, Purdue and Illinois.

Starters

#32 Forward E.J. Liddell(6-7, 240 Jr) 22PPG-8 rebounds-#1 rated player nationally according to KenPom. Pick and pop master. 40% "3s"-70% "2s"-complete 94 foot player.

#23 Forward Zed Key(6-8, 245 2nd year)-scored buzzer beater winner vs Akron(67-66). 13PPG-posts up very hard.

#55 PG Jamari Wheeler(6-1,170 5th year) Penn State transfer-All B10 defense-good spot-up 3 point shooter.

#10 Justin Ahrens Wing(6-6,195 Jr) great shooter.

#22 2G Malaki Branham(6-5 180 Frosh) 5 Star recruit-Akron St Vincent-St Marys)-Ohio Mr Basketball-best AVSM player since LeBron James? What about Jerome Lane? Mail it in Jerome of Pitt Panther fame. 6-7 Sr Justice Sueing apparently out w/ injury?(11PPG-5.5 REB last year).

#25 Kyle Young(6-8 225 Sr) is coming off bench after losing time to concussion(their glue guy w/ hustling floor game).

Bench

Guards- #0 6-2 Soph Meechie Johnson(PG) and #3 Eugene Brown 6-6 195 bull. #50 Joey Brunk(6-11 255) Indiana and Butler transfer provides extra post depth. Shooters Seth Towns and Cedric Russell have fought injuries so far.

Ohio State passes well and shares the ball. Buckeyes switch defenses a lot but are base man to man.They will 2-2-1 press. Coach Chris Holtman is in 5th year after good run at Butler. 20+ wins every season at OSU. NCAA 2 SEED last year-upset by 15 SEED Oral Roberts w/ glue guy Kyle Young injured. Wins over Akron, Niagara and Bowling Green so far(all in Columbus).

Travis Steele on OSU:

"It's a great opportunity for Xavier. They are a great team and great brand. Liddell is a major match-up problem. He does it all. We have to be connected defensively against Liddell plus they pass so well."

"It's not just one on one. We gotta mix defenses. It can't be the same pitch for 40 minutes. We'll give them different looks. When the shot goes up, we've got to hit somebody and not get punked on the glass. They post up harder than anybody we'll play all year. We have to be ready to bang. If we win the board battle and take care of the ball, we will be OK.

"We've talked to the team about that 2007 NCAA loss to OSU in Lexington(Buckeyes won in OT. X led by 11 late in regulation. Greg Oden's heavy foul vs Justin Cage was not ruled intentional giving OSU a shot to tie w/ a long "3"). Oden will be on the bench. He's on their staff. Justin Cage gets inducted Saturday into XU HOF. That's sort of ironic."

(Cage scored a career high 25 vs OSU at Rupp Arena in his final game).

"Walt McBride texted me regarding Muskies 1984 NIT win over Buckeyes at Cincy Gardens." (60-57 OT victory-sell-out crowd-huge local TV audience after we begged AD Jeff Fogelson to televise the home game.)

"Both Jerome Hunter and Jack Nunge (Big Ten transfers) spoke to the team about playing against OSU. It's better coming from guys w/ direct experience. They talked personnel and playing style. There is a great deal of urgency for us to win this game. We've got them at our place" (NET Quad 1 win for XU-OSU is a Top 30).

Xavier opened practice Wednesday w/ the usual mid court huddle. Players, coaches and staff clapped loudly and raucously for well over a minute. Then Steele imparted his phrase of the day. "Nothing is ever achieved without enthusiasm." More cheers and wild clapping!

1st drill was PG to Wing-dribble penetration-bounce pass to a BIG for a slam dunk. Dunk after dunk-way above the rim-hanging on the iron. Big time cheers!

Dieonte Miles wore his 2nd Gold Jersey of the season as Best Practice Player. His DUNKS were thunderous. This group has the enthusiasm needed-now bring on the execution. Coaches ran the final rep in that drill. Steele at PG-Dante Jackson as driving Wing-Associate Head Coach Jonas Hayes as the BIG. It was great theater!! Twice Jonas failed to dunk it. 3rd time the charm! Tomahawk slam w/ plenty to spare! Jonas has dropped weight and has his Georgia hops back. The players went nuts and swarmed all over him!

How does Xavier win this especially without Freemantle? It's simple! Hit the numbers and goals! 7 or more KILLS(3 defensive stops in row)-10 or more offensive rebounds-35 deflections-make more FTs than Ohio State attempts-keep turnovers at 11 or fewer.

Brad Redford joins me at Duffs in Cintas starting at 5:50. We preview the game.

BIG EAST 4-0 vs Big Ten thru Tuesday w/ wins by Marquette, PC, Creighton and Seton Hall. #4 Michigan and #10 Illinois have gone down. Wednesday-Michigan State at Butler and St Johns at Indiana. Thursday X-OSU and Rutgers at De Paul.

HUGE GAME Thursday!! NCAA Feel in November!!




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