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Xavier hosts Marquette in a pivotal Big East matchup

Xavier has to win the home games, and this one is no exception.

The essentials
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: Cintas Center
TV: FOX Sports 1
TWC 317
DirecTV 219
DISH 150
Cincinnati Bell 58/506(HD)
Radio feed: 700 WLW

A home game, thank goodness. Every tip off at Cintas becomes increasingly important as Xavier continues to struggle to win or look like a real basketball team on the road. The Muskies are now 2-6 away from home but a sterling 9-0 in the friendly confines of their home floor. Marquette is not a team with a resume full of good road wins; defending the home court against them is a must for Xavier.

The Golden Eagles staggered to a 4-4 start, capped by a 49-38 loss to Wisconsin that was not a feather in the cap of basketball as an entity. They have bounced back since then - thanks in part to getting transfer center Luke Fischer eligible - picking up wins against an admittedly soft schedule over Christmas before going 2-2 in the first two weeks of conference play. Like Xavier, they bear the scarlet letter of having dropped a game to DePaul.

Team fingerprint:
Marquette gets it done with defense. Not even their whole defense, really. They're pretty bad at defending inside the arc and downright awful on the defensive glass. What they do better than almost anyone in the nation is force live-ball turnovers; they are 13th in steal% and 28th in overall turnover percentage, thanks largely to a 1-3-1 zone they run in the half court. If they don't force the opponent to throw the ball away, it really all goes downhill from there.

Offensively they've been a mixed bag. They don't do poorly in protecting the ball and their 52% mark from inside the arc is 40th in the country. They also move the ball very well, assisting nearly two thirds of their made buckets. They've struggled with turnovers in conference play though, and they're really bad from the line. They also don't shoot particularly well or often from behind the arc, which bodes well for Xavier.

Starters:

STARTING MATCHUPS
DERRICK WILSON POINT GUARD DEE DAVIS
Senior Class Senior
6'1", 210 Measurements 6'0", 160
6.1/3.1/3.2 Game line 9.8/2.0/5.8
.443/.318/.484 Shooting line .421/.314/.763
Wilson has never been a great shooter, deriving most of his value from ball security and distribution. His role has diminished a little bit with Matt Carlino on board, but he's still a good defender and a safe option on the ball. Like all of the team's starters except Fischer, Wilson averages about a steal and a half per game.
MATT CARLINO GUARD REMY ABELL
Senior Class Junior
6'2", 175 Measurements 6'4", 200
12.7/3.1/3.6 Game line 9.5/1.7/1.8
.393/.395/.823 Shooting line .549/.425/.750
A grad transfer from BYU, Carlino leads the team in both scoring and assists. He's not an even average finisher, but he is a consistent threat from beyond the arc off the dribble and in catch-and-shoot situations. He is very effective in getting to the line and converting his FT.
DUANE WILSON GUARD/FORWARD TREVON BLUIETT
Freshman Class Freshman
6'2", 185 Measurements 6'6", 215
11.3/2.4/2.2 Game line 12.5/5.1/2.1
.401/.304/.757 Shooting line .447/.348/.786
Marquette starts three guards in an attempt to get their most talented players on the floor. Wilson is a well below average rebounder, which really puts pressure on the bigs to snag missed shots at both ends. He's a good defender but an inefficient scorer. He is capable of going off when he gets hot, as Tennessee found when he dropped 30 on them.
JUAN ANDERSON POWER FORWARD JAMES FARR
Senior Class Junior
6'6", 215 Measurements 6'10", 237
10.9/6.6/2.4 Game line 5.4/6.0/0.6
.532/.455/.542 Shooting line .416/.276/.600
Anderson and Steve Taylor have been splitting starts here, but as long as Anderson keeps working hard in practice I think we'll see him in the lineup. Anderson is active on the offensive glass and lead the team in stick backs. He's 10-22 from behind the arc on the year, which could be a factor in the game. He also has a steal% of 2.8%, third on the team and very good for a big man.
LUKE FISCHER CENTER MATT STAINBROOK
Sophomore Class Senior
6'11", 245 Measurements 6'10", 263
11.8/5.0/1.4 Game line 12.6/7.2/2.0
.788/.000/.545 Shooting line .661/.333/.750
Fischer is a transfer from Indiana and has only been eligible for eight games. Marquette has gone 6-2 in that time with a couple of wins over decent squads, and his ability to score inside has shored up the offense to a decent extent. He hits 62% of his jump shots, so he's not just an around the rim player. He's a very good shot blocker but not a great rebounder for a man his size.


Reserves:
Wing JaJuan Johnson is a 6'5" volume shooter off the bench. He averages 8.4/2.8/1.9 on .426/.175/.727. He's also an aggressive defender with a steal% in the 100 in the nation. Steve Taylor, Jr. is a big body (6'7", 240) who occasionally starts and averages 5.7 and 4.9. He is the team's best offensive rebounder. Freshman wing Sandy Cohen III is 13-27 from deep in 11 minutes per game.

Three questions:
-Who will start for Xavier?
This is the big one. I hope whatever message was being sent at Villanova was received, because I'm not sure I'm ready to watch Remy Abell get nine minutes a game going forward. This Xavier team is deep, but we need to have our best players on the floor to win conference games.

-Who controls the tempo? Marquette gets barely a quarter of its minutes from the bench and loves to play slowly. X is deep and has tempo and offensive pace in the top 100 in the nation. If X can get out and go and force Marquette out of their comfort zone, the Golden Eagles might be in for a long night.

-Where is the game being played? At home? Sweet. It's simplistic, but the biggest factor in the outcome of most Xavier games seems to be the venue. Having this one at Cintas will probably make all the difference.

Three keys:
-Control the ball. Your friend and mine Dee Davis is a top-notch assist man at the point, but he does sometimes get a little loose with the ball. Marquette feasts on live-ball turnovers; Dee needs to set the tone of ball security, and the entire team needs to follow suit.

-Pound the glass. Xavier's rebounding out of conference was consistently incredible, but it has fallen back to earth in conference play. Marquette is not a good rebounding team and - outside of Luke Fischer - not very tall. This is a game where Xavier can get back to holding opponents to one and done while feasting on second chances themselves.

-Extend a lead. On Wednesday, Villanova showed what a team with a big lead at home should do to bury a game. Xavier has done well in establishing leads - they've only trailed at halftime twice this year - but has done very little in