Scouting Xavier at Marquette - Sunday-2PM EST
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier is at Marquette-Sunday-2PM EST-TV FS1. It's NCAA NET Quad 1 win opportunity for both teams( XU #16 NET)(MU #33). KenPom picks X, 75-74, so it's a toss-up basically. Muskies won Game #1 over Golden Eagles in BE opener at Cintas on 12-18 80-71. X started slowly(down 9 w/ 10 mins left-1st half)-M bombed in 6 "3s" before the break. Dwon Odom flipped the script-coming off the bench-attacking the rim-scoring 19 and ball hawking the MU guards. X steadied and won the rebound battle 45-39 w/ 13 offensive boards. "D" forced 12 MU turnovers and XU took good care of the rock(just 8 TOs) vs Marquette's Havoc press. Xavier vets like Scruggs and Freemantle struggled to score, but Odom and Nate Johnson(17 points-4 assists-0 TOs) and Jack Nunge (13 points-12 rebounds) and Colby Jones(11 points-8 rebounds) shined!!
Muskies shot 35 FTs but left points on the table making just 21 (60%). X cannot do that in Milwaukee!! MU's leaders at guard Darryl Morsell and Tyler Kolek got into foul trouble so that hurt. Can't bank on that happening on the road.
Xavier should be at full strength. Dieonte Miles and Adam Kunkel return to practice Friday. Miles DNP Wednesday in the 68-67 Muskie win at DePaul. Kunkel helped BIG TIME w/ 8 early points at DU but was slowed by stomach flu later. Zach Freemantle missed Friday practice w/ the flu bug. He's from North Jersey!! Zach should play Sunday.
XU may change the line-up and rotation vs Marquette after slow starts in the last 3 games. Steele points the finger at WAR#2(4-8 minute segment of 1st half). MU in fact outscored XU 12-4 in that slot back on 12-18.
Marquette is 13-6, 5-3 BIG EAST w/ a current 5 game win streak after losing their 1st three BE games. MU upset Villanova Tuesday in Philly 57-54(snapping VU's 29 game Pavilion win streak). They blew out BE leader PC (now 5-1) in Milwaukee 88-56 and edged Seton Hall 73-72 along w/ "Ws" over Georgetown and DePaul.
MU is pressing and running and scoring profusely under new coach Shaka Smart. Here's Travis Steele:
"They're shooting the ball now at an elite level. It's amazing what confidence will do. Guys have now bought into their roles. They are playing hard. They share the ball. After Game#1 at Cintas. I thought these guys are really good-long-talented. They blew me away. Shaka is doing a terrific job w/ them. They believe in his system."
Against Villanova, MU beat VU at their own patient game-outscoring them from "3"-winning the turnover numbers-making the clutch shots-rallying from 8 points down late. 6-8 Justin Lewis scored 21-knocking down 4 3 pointers. He hit the game winning shot. Super SR Darryl Morsell scores and plays physical "D"( Maryland transfer-B10 Def POY). PG Tyler Kolek(George Mason transfer) is an assist machine who specializes in skip passes and kick outs to open 3 point shooters. Oklahoma transfer Kur Kueth (7 footer) is BE shot block leader.
Veteran Greg Elliott is the bench secret sauce(3 point sniper). He scored 18 vs XU in G#1 and is scoring in bunches(14 at Villanova, 25 vs DePaul, 22 vs UCLA) overall 52% from "3". 3 Frosh are role playing off the bench)Guard Kam Jones and BIGS O.M. Prosper and Oso Ighodaro.
8 man rotation-various presses. When they score(80PPG during win streak) they can set up the pressure and wear teams down. MU does not offensive rebound well except for Justin Lewis who is good at everything. They do not normally shoot a lot of FTs.
For Xavier to win at MU, Muskies need to crash the glass-get to the FT line like 25 to 30 times and keep their turnovers in low double digits. Not so easy to do on the road w/ MU now playing lights out. X has a 5th road kill in their sights and a 4th NET Quad 1 win. 40 minutes of low mistake high energy hoops will be needed.
Wednesday at Cintas Xavier gets a crack at now COVID free Providence (BE leader at 5-1). Friars beat G-town 83-75 Thursday and host Butler Sunday at the Dunk. Get that win Sunday at Marquette and maybe Wednesday at Cintas vs PC is a tussle for 1st place in the BIG EAST??