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Xavier v. ASU: Preview, matchup, and keys to the game

It’s a championship game! Sort of. Xavier looks to make it another productive Thanksgiving trip.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Wisconsin
At some point Getty or USA Today will get us new pics.
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier spent 30 minutes half asleep last night and still rolled over George Washington when they felt so inclined. As frustrating as that must be for a coach, or, indeed, a fanbase, it’s some indication of how much better the Musketeers are than the Colonials. GWU played about the best game they can hope to, and lost by 19.

That won’t be the case tonight. Arizona State has played a similarly weak schedule to Xavier, but they’ve added in wins over San Diego State and, now, Kansas State. Xavier will be the best team they’ve played, but the Sun Devils don’t figure to be cowed when they can look ahead and see Kansas and Arizona on the schedule. This could be a good one.

Team Fingerprint:

Arizona State is almost as good on offense as Xavier is. Right now, their 113.9 offensive efficiency is 19th in the nation. (X is ninth). They play fast, they shoot the three extremely well at a 42% clip, and they are 32nd in the nation with a 15% turnover rate. The Devils aren’t great from the line, but there aren’t a lot of holes in the offense.

That stands in stark contrast to the defense which is, at first blush, nothing but a hole. ASU sells out for the turnover (23.6% TO rate), and get gashed otherwise. Opposing shooters are knocking down 39% of their three pointers and take 43% of their shots from there. If you aren’t up on basketball theory, that’s bad. Inside the Sun Devils are a little better, but they aren’t good and they are terrible at keeping teams off the glass.



Starting matchups
Shannon Evans II Point Guard Quentin Goodin
Senior Class Sophomore
6'1", 160 Measurements 6'4", 190
19/2.8/5.6 Game line 7.2/1.4/5.6
0.419/0.436/0.839 Shooting line 0.56/0/0.889
Evans not only stirs the drink, there are times when he is the drink. He's going to play every meaningful minute, take a lot of shots, and do everything but drive the bus.
Tra Holder Shooting Guard J.P. Macura
Junior Class Senior
6'1", 180 Measurements 6'5", 203
20/6.4/5.8 Game line 12/5/3.8
0.477/0.469/0.821 Shooting line 0.606/0.222/0.818
When Evans isn't running the team, Holder is. There's a very good argument to be made that this is the best two guard combo in the nation. Both are going to get theirs.
Kodi Justice Small Forward Trevon Bluiett
Senior Class Senior
6'5", 190 Measurements 6'6", 202
15.4/2.2/2.2 Game line 23.4/6.8/2.8
0.578/0.464/0.6 Shooting line 0.587/0.545/0.926
Justice is a three and D guy who flashes a good midrange jumper and is excellent at the rim when he gets there.
Vitaliy Shibel Power Forward Kaiser Gates
Freshman Class Junior
6'9", 210 Measurements 6'6", 215
2.8/2.2/1.8 Game line 10.2/5/1.2
0.25/0.154/1 Shooting line 0.405/0.419/0.667
Shibel starts and then generally heads for the bench with foul trouble. If he played a full 40 minutes he would foul out more than twice.
Romello White Center Tyrique Jones
Sophomore Class Sophomore
6'8", 220 Measurements 6'9", 237
18.5/9.5/0.3 Game line 11.6/7.6/1
0.694/0/0.558 Shooting line 0.688/0/0.583
White also uses the ball a lot and uses it pretty well. He is a monster on the offensive glass and blocks 4.2% of opponent's shot attempts.


De’Quon Lake is a 6-10 post who plays as much as some team’s starters. He’s eighth in the nation with an EFG% of 81.2%. He’s also a beast on the glass on both ends. To spell the guards is Remy Martin, a 6-1 slasher who shoots the ball well but doesn’t take care of it very well at all. Beyond those two, Bobby Hurley doesn’t use his bench.

Three questions:

Where has JP gone? In the last two games, JP has been essentially a non-factor. It’s likely the bad back that is hampering him, but his athleticism is going to be needed against a team like ASU. They can be had from deep, too, so the chances for JP to breakout will be there.

Can Xavier stop the guards? X is playing good defense so far this year, but Holder and Evans, (and Justice if you count him as a guard) are like nothing they’ve seen thus far. Quentin Goodin can be slow-footed defensively. If he is today, he’s going to get torched mercilessly.

Zone up? Xavier broke out the 1-3-1 for the first time last night. That could have been a dry run in order to keep the Musketeers out of bad man to man matchups today. If Xavier does go zone, Coach Mack will likely move Q to a wing and let Macura or Gates patrol the top to prevent quick ball rotation.

Three keys:

Don’t allow a long run: The Sun Devils can score and do it in bunches because of their pace of play. X hasn’t had to come from significantly behind yet this year, but letting ASU’s guards hunt rhythm shots will lead to that. The Musketeers defensive turnover rate is a pretty bad 16.1%. They may need to pressure the ball more today rather than dare the Devils to make shots.

Pound it inside: Arizona State can block shots, but they don’t defend inside exceptionally well. The perimeter will be open all game, it remains to be seen if ASU can do anything about Tyrique Jones or Sean O’Mara.

Crash the glass: Xavier isn’t offensive rebounding well this season so far. Arizona State allows a ton of offensive rebounds. To prevent the Sun Devils from getting their running game in gear Coach Mack has two options: he can get men back on the shot to prevent runouts, or he can rely on Jones, Gates, and a guard to get more active on the glass.