Xavier just got gunned to death by Arizona State. You may be aware of that, but it bears repeating. The Musketeers allowed 102 points and watched the Sun Devils shoot a gleeful 13-27 behind the arc. When Xavier pressured outside, A-State’s guards ran past them and started a 23-25 parade from the line. It was comprehensive destruction masquerading as a basketball game. This in a contest that Xavier once led by 15.
The question that now looms is whether the problems can be corrected, and quickly. Xavier plays Baylor tomorrow night at 630. That game will be at home, but that won’t change the outcome if the Musketeers once again let an opponent step into threes all game long. Can Baylor replicate what the Sun Devils just did? Let’s have a look.
The main part of answering that comes behind the arc. The Bears under Scott Drew shoot the three pointer very well. This season they are knocking down 38.2% of their attempts from deep. That’s more than enough to be deadly, but it isn’t the unholy 43% that Arizona State is shooting right now. The other major difference is that 42.9% of the Sun Devil’s field goal attempts come from behind the arc. Only 31.8% of Baylor’s do. So Baylor is good from behind the arc, but they are neither as prolific nor as accurate as the team that blitzed X on Friday.
There are differences in personnel as well. Should Drew decide that blasting away from behind the arc is the way to beat Xavier, and he may very well do that, he has some options. Manu Lecomte is currently shooting 43% from deep in a healthy sample size. King McClure has knocked down 46% of the 15 threes he’s attempted in five games, and 6-9 senior Nuni Omot is shooting a respectable 36% behind the arc. All in all, there are shooters there.
But that doesn’t compare to Arizona State, who has three guys who have shot more threes than Lecomte this year. Tra Holder has gotten off 40 and made fully half of them. That’s just crazy. Baylor has the guns to try it, but they don’t compare at all with the long range barrage that Arizona State’s quiksilver guards are used to chucking. It would take a major change of gameplan for Baylor to do the same thing State did.
Finally, it’s hard to imagine another game in which Xavier so utterly wilts down the stretch. Quentin Goodin is never going to be an elite defender, but he was a turnstile on Friday when he was in the game. With ten minutes to go, Xavier started to resemble a team that knew it was beaten on defense. That lack of effort won’t be repeated again by a Coach Mack team.
So, Baylor may come into the Cintas and try to shoot X out of their packline, but that’s not how they generally play. Even if they do try to change their style, they don’t have the bevy of laser quick guards that Arizona State does. And, even if those things change for a game, it seems highly unlikely that Chris Mack has decided to take that hiding laying down. Baylor may come to Xavier and win this game, but they probably can’t do it like the Sun Devils did.