It’s Blue and White Night at the Cintas Center as Sean Miller and his ninth-ranked Xavier Musketeers host Fran Dunphy and the Temple Owls in an Atlantic 10 matchup.
XU enters tonight’s contest 19-2 overall and 7-0 in the A10. Saturday’s 82-80 victory over UMass was the Muskies' 10th consecutive win. Temple has won three of four, including Saturday’s 74-65 over Richmond. They enter play 12-8 with a 4-2 record in conference play.
Xavier hits 47 percent from the field, including 38.9 percent from behind the arc and 68 percent from the line for 73.8 points per game. Temple drops 45 percent from the field, 38.1 percent of their three-pointers, and 72.8 percent from the stripe for 69.5 points per game. Xavier grabs 43.7 boards per game while Temple gets 39.4.
Xavier barely survived a serious threat from the Minutemen over the weekend when Tony Gaffney’s put-back rimmed out in the waning seconds of the game. UMass exposed Xavier’s inability to defend the dribble.
Citizens of the "Nasty ‘Nati" might want to spend some time at Bellarmin Chapel praying they don’t draw Memphis in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers will run the dribble drive offense ad nauseam.
This is the only regular season meeting between the two.
The Cintas Center is a finalist in the EA Sports “Toughest Places to Play” contest.
Xavier is one win shy of their fourth consecutive 20-win season and its 12th in the last 13 seasons.
Temple leads the all-time series 10-8, but the X-Men are 5-1 on home hardwood versus the Owls. Temple won last year’s meeting in Philly, 78-59.
Xavier is one of only nine schools to make the Elite Eight multiple times in the last five years.
Xavier comes into the game eighth in the nation in field-goal percentage defense. Opponents are shooting a mere 37.4 percent from the field. Temple comes into the match hitting 45 percent from the field. Only Duke has shot better than 42 percent versus Xavier.
Characters to Watch
Xavier starts with their Three Musketeers, B.J. Raymond (13.2 ppg and 4.4 rebounds), Derrick Brown (14.0/5.9), and C.J. Anderson (11.0/5.8).
Raymond possesses an innate ability to let the game come to him. The senior has been counted on to make the big plays at both ends of the floor late in the game.
Brown is quickly developing as an inside/outside threat who can catch the ball with his back to the basket and finish while also capable of stepping out and knocking down a three. Check him out while you can. This kid’s name will be part of next season’s Player of the Year discussion. Rumor on campus has it that he is also a mean Uno player.
Anderson is a ball getter who gets the dirty work done.
But the Musketeers don’t stop there. Six other players have proven capable of contributing double-digits on a given night—Terrell Holloway (13 vs. Memphis/12 vs. Missouri plus two other games), Jason Love (10 vs. LSU plus five more games), Jamel McLean (11 vs. Memphis), Kenny Frease (13 vs. Virginia, 12 vs. LSU, 17 vs. Charlotte), Dante Jackson (13 vs. Auburn, 15 vs. Cincy, 13 vs. Virginia), and Brad Redford (14 vs. St. Bonaventure, 11 vs. Fordham).
Temple starts three players who average double digits points including Lavoy Allen (10.2 ppg), Ryan Brooks (10.4) and Dionte Christmas (20.5). Christmas is a special player who hits 44 percent of his shots from the field. The two-time conference scoring champion also grabs 6.6 boards per game and dishes out 2.5 assists. With defenses extending beyond the arc Christmas has shown a deft ability to make precise back door cuts leading to lay ups.
At 6'9" and 7'0" Allen and Sergio Olmos will tower above everyone on the court.
After Saturday, every team is going to attempt to take the Muskies off the dribble. Temple’s backcourt is not UMass. The Owls will try to penetrate but without much success. The Owls will need to use a zone to slow up Xavier’s offense.
Xavier will need to neutralize Temple’s interior size. Look for Love, Brown, and Anderson to spend plenty of time attacking the tin and using up fakes to get Allen and Olmos in the air.
Xavier will spend plenty of time at the charity stripe. Conference games can get a little crazy, but Xavier heard Saturday’s wake up call.