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Xavier v. Providence: Preview

The Musketeers host the Friars in a must-win game for Xavier's at-large resume.

I try not to personally dislike guys because of how they play basketball, but this dude makes it difficult.
I try not to personally dislike guys because of how they play basketball, but this dude makes it difficult.
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
The essentials
Time: 1:00 PM
Location: Cintas Center
TV: FOX Sports 1
TWC 317
DirecTV 219
DISH 150
Cincinnati Bell 58/506(HD)
Radio feed: 700 WLW

While Xavier was messing around and definitely not getting any triple-doubles on Saturday, Providence was beating Georgetown on the road. The Musketeers had sat at 5-5 in the Big East, looking good to control their own destiny and continue the steady if unspectacular progress to a NCAA tournament spot. Instead, they verged into the spectacular in a decidedly negative way and blew a seven point second half cushion en route to losing to the worst team in the conference. After the game, Myles Davis blasted his teammates for not being ready to play at the outset or after taking the lead, went after Matt Stainbrook and James Farr for being too slow outside, and let the world know Jalen Reynolds doesn't bother with scouting reports. The sophomore guard was calm, but clearly furious with his teammates.

While all that was going on, Providence was going to 7-3 and into a virtual tie for the conference lead. Since Xavier took them to overtime, the Friars have beaten DePaul, somehow lost to a wobbling St. John's, and now beaten Georgetown in the Verizon Center. As Xavier's stock suddenly plunges, Providence's is on the rise. If Xavier wants to begin to repair the damage done on Wednesday, this is the first step. A second consecutive loss and the Musketeers will be on the outside looking in.

Team fingerprint:
Let's start with some good news: Providence is the worst three-point shooting team in the league. They're shooting 27.7% from behind the arc in conference play, which is obviously horrible. No team in the league gets a lower percentage of its points from behind the arc. The Friars make more than half their two-point attempts and get to the glass and the line very well. They are about average at avoiding turnovers, but they're downright miserable from the line.

Defensively, they don't do anything exceptionally well or poorly. They're slighty above average in blocking shots and defending inside the arc and slightly below average in forcing turnovers and defending the glass. Getting off threes is difficult against Providence, but they send teams to the line at an above-average clip.

Starters:

STARTING MATCHUPS
Kris Dunn Point Guard Dee Davis
Sophomore Class Senior
6'3", 205 Measurements 6-0, 170
15.3/6.0/7.5 Game line 9.2/2.0/5.9
.496/.333/.667 Shooting line .398/.277/.750
Dunn is a good but not great shooter, but nobody in the nation distributes the ball better than he does (50.5% assist rate). When he does shoot, he's effective from both elbows but not great at the rim. He is averaging one made three per game in conference.
Junior Lomomba Shooting Guard Myles Davis
Sophomore Class Sophomore
6'5", 200 Measurements 6-2, 195
1.6/1.1/0.3 Game line 11.2/2.5/2.3
.423/.250/.643 Shooting line .433/.394/.883
Lomomba has gotten the start the last four games, so we'll slot him in here. He has an extremely low usage rate on offense, but he has the length to be a disruptive force on defense.
LaDontae Henton Forward Remy Abell
Senior Class Junior
6'6", 215 Measurements 6-4, 195
20.2/5.6/1.0 Game line 9.3/2.0/1.5
.456/.323/.761 Shooting line .503/.422/.750
This guy you may have heard of. Nobody in the conference plays more minutes or has a higher shots%. He's not a very efficient shooter, but he draws a ton of fouls, lives at the line, and hits enough FT to average almost 6 points per game from the stripe in conference play.
Ben Bentil Forward James Farr
Class Junior
6'8", 230 Measurements 6-10, 247
5.2/4.1/0.6 Game line 4.9/5.7/0.5
.423/.300/.646 Shooting line .416/.242/.467
Bentil took over the starting position halfway through the season and has done pretty well with it. He's a good defender and shot blocker but a little bit foul prone. Despite starting, he still just about splits the minutes here.
Carson Desrosiers Center Matt Stainbrook
Senior Class Senior
7'0", 250 Measurements 6-10, 270
7.8/5.0/1.0 Game line 12.6/6.8/2.3
.467/.417/.706 Shooting line .636/.333/.767
Desrosiers is one of the top defensive centers in the nation and one of the few players who can guard Matt Stainbrook without help. All of his offensive damage is done in the lane – that 3P% comes on 5-12 on the year and 0-5 in conference. Despite his size, he's only an average rebounder.

Reserves:
Tyler Harris is a 6'9" power forward who gets close to starter's minutes off the bench and puts up a game line of 10.3/4.3/1.1 on .425/.333/.696 shooting. Kyron Cartwright is a 5'11" freshman guard; he started for the first eight games before coming off the bench. He is averaging 3.2/1.6/2.7 and is turnover prone and not a good shooter. Freshman wing Jalen Lyndsey is an efficient bench scorer who also has some starts under his belt.

Three questions:
-Can Xavier slow down Kris Dunn? Man I hope this guy goes pro after this season. He's about the only assist man Providence has and is also their second-leading scorer. His size makes him a matchup problem for Dee Davis, so it figures that Remy Abell will draw him. He threw up 23/13/11 against DePaul and has the potential to do just about that in any given game.

-Can Matt Stainbrook force the double? Stainbrook was suffering from a tailbone stinger last time out and was visibly slowed by it. Providence has one of the top defensive centers in the league in Carson Desrosiers, which means Stainbrook won't have rotating defense to pick apart from the post. It's going to be incumbent on him to at least give the Friars something to think about inside if Xavier wants to get the offense rolling.

-Can Myles rediscover his shooting touch? Davis has developed into the kind of offensive threat on the perimeter that X has enjoyed through the years, able to score from all over and move the ball as needed. He's also in a 1-11 drought from deep in the last two games, both of which Xavier lost. The Musketeers don't just need someone to be able to hit from deep, they need it to be Myles. If he could shake loose and hit a couple, that would go a long way towards shoring up the offense.

Three keys:
-Defend the glass.
Second-chance points killed Xavier against Creighton, and Providence is the second-best offensive rebounding team in the league. Xavier has to do a better job of end possessions with defensive rebounding on Saturday, because Providence will feast on easy buckets if they don't.

-Come out ready. The Muskies have a nasty habit of falling behind early only to have to battle back into games. While that makes for an inspiring story, it also leaves legs dead and players drained for the final four minutes. Opening with an early run would get the Cintas Center crowd into the game and spare Xavier the effort of having to claw back into it against a very good opponent.

-Pound it inside. Last time these teams played, Jalen and Matt both had double-doubles. Carson Desrosiers can defend, but presumably only one of them at a time. If Xavier can defend well enough on the other end to run a double-post offense, there should be plenty of touches to go around on the inside.