Xavier's recent loss to Creighton came down to two things: an inability to stop the Bluejays during the decisive 21-4 run to start the game, and an offense that never even came close to getting rolling. Xavier's occasionally vaunted 1-3-1 stopped the Jays in the second half and gave the Musketeers a chance to get back in the game, but going 1-21 from behind the arc pretty much derailed any hope of a comeback. That leaves Xavier with an interesting quandary. As was discussed earlier this week, the Musketeers lack the guards to just man up and defend unless they are willing to sacrifice some scoring. Against the tenth most effective offense in the nation, what will Coach Mack choose to do?
1. Remy or JP?
When JP has slid into the starting lineup it has been in place of Myles Davis, but it ends up being Remy's minutes that he eats. Roosevelt Jones is going to use the ball a lot for Butler, and he seems like a good matchup for Abell. He certainly isn't a good matchup for JP. Butler's defense isn't terribly good, so this could be a chance for Coach Mack to let loose his one defensive dog of war.
2. LAJ or...JP?
Ok, so say this is a matchup for Remy. Butler shoots 37% from deep, which is good enough to make playing the zone something of a gamble. While LAJ lacks some size on both Kelan Martin and Kellen Dunham, he could provide a Dee Davis like service in making them work extremely hard just to get into the position to shot over him. JP, once again, lacks the lateral speed to stay with a slasher. He's been serviceable moving in space at the top of the zone though, so he may be able to chase well off screens and use his length to harry a shooter. Taking that risk gives Mack another scoring threat on the floor.
3. Jalen may, once again, be overtaking James.
The obvious caveat here is that something isn't right with James Farr. Against Marquette he played only 11 minutes and grabbed nary a rebound. Against Creighton his minutes were back up, but he was not himself on the glass. Whether that's just the lingering nature of recovery from a leg injury or a sign of something still ailing him isn't immediately apparent and Coach Mack is taking the Bill Belichick route with discussing injuries. Jalen, on the other hand, very nearly pounded Xavier back into that Bluejay game on his own. His shooting left something to be desired, but Jalen wanted the ball and was willing to do something with it. Coach Mack must surely be leaning back toward his 6-10 wall of barely fulfilled potential.