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The WKU fan's guide to Xavier basketball

Love Western Kentucky but have never heard of Xavier? This is the guide for you.

Trevon Bluiett unselfishly cues the attack.
Trevon Bluiett unselfishly cues the attack.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, Hilltoppers fans. Sorry(ish) about beating you all out for Quentin Goodin, but we needed a point guard recruit and he needed a school where he could play on TV and make the NCAA tournament. We hope you're not sore. More pertinently to tomorrow's matchup, we're kind of riding high right now. Xavier is off to a 7-0 start and sitting either 1st (RPI), 12th (AP poll), 14th (KenPom), or 18th (coaches, but what do they know?) in the nation. Do you guys have any sort of directional Kentucky school rivalry with NKU? We beat them with a fairly lackluster effort earlier this year.

Anyway, here's a little information to get you prepared for what you'll see tomorrow:

Xavier personnel:

No. Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Wt. PPG RPG APG FG% 3P% FT% Notes
STARTERS
4 Edmond Sumner Fr. G 6-6 183 11.4 2.7 2.9 .468 .438 .659 Very explosive attacking the basket. Sometimes overdribbles looking for his shot. Can take over games in stretches.
10 Remy Abell Sr. G 6-4 197 7.6 1.6 2.0 .364 .278 .842 Best defender on the team. Can score, but doesn't hunt shots.
15 Myles Davis Jr. G 6-2 188 10.1 3.9 2.4 .382 .333 .905 Can bring the ball up under pressure. Best shooter on the team and their emotional leader.
5 Trevon Bluiett So. G/F 6-6 208 14.3 7.4 2.4 .429 .436 .579 Versatile scorer who can get a lot of baskets without forcing his way into the game. Will take advantage of inattentive defense.
1 Jalen Reynolds Jr. F 6-10 238 10.1 7.6 1.3 .462 .500 .733 Absolute monster in the middle. He hates the refs and the refs hate him.
RESERVES
Larry Austin Jr. So. G 6-2 179 1.9 0.9 1.3 .500 .000 .750 Will push on offense and work hard on defense. Quality reserve point guard.
2 James Farr Sr. F/C 6-10 244 9.4 9.0 0.4 .519 .000 .800 The best rebounder in college basketball. Loves working onto his left hand in the post.
13 Makindé London Fr. F 6-10 220 1.2 1.5 0.5 .200 .200 .500 Athletic but whip thin. Good shot blocker as help defender.
22 Kaiser Gates Fr. F 6-8 217 2.2 1.8 0.0 .250 .167 .750 Stretch four. Not afraid to shoot. Has awesome hair.
54 Sean O'Mara So. F/C 6-10 247 3.0 1.5 0.0 .545 .000 .600 Back-to-the-basket big man. Sometimes gets overanxious on the offensive end.
55 J.P. Macura So. G 6-5 203 10.6 2.4 1.9 .444 .320 .839 Always gives huge effort. Supremely confident. Not afraid to tell opponents about the good work he just did.

Xavier strategy

The offense has been good this year despite some fairly mediocre shooting. X has several guys who can score from beyond the arc, but almost all of them are in various stages of recovering from a slow start. Trevon Bluiett is the obvious exception here; all he does is get buckets. Xavier will run motion and work through the high and low posts, but one of their best plays so far this year has been to shoot and miss. Led by James Farr, the Muskies have dominated on the offensive glass and feasted on second-chance points this year. Keep an eye on Coach Mack's baseline out of bounds plays; they're almost absurdly choreographed and usually lead to open looks.

Defensively, Xavier can be hurt from beyond the arc. Whether X is running a man or a 1-3-1, teams are going to get clean looks from deep. Part of this is strategic, part of it is just the fact that we don't have a lot of good defenders. The trade off for this is that the interior defense is fairly stout and we've usually got a lot of guys in good rebounding position. Much like on the offensive end, Xavier's defense has done a great job of owning the glass this year.


Other things to consider

-With Farr and Macura coming off the bench, Xavier has seven guys with good cases to start.
-This team is deep and unselfish. Edmond Sumner sometimes gets caught with the ball in his hands, but beyond that the team buys into Coach Mack's mantra that our best scorer is the open man.
-Xavier hasn't really been in any sort of danger of losing all year. Only Miami(OH) in the opener even made it a single-digit game.