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Xavier v. Colorado: matchups, preview, keys to the game

The final stop on Xavier’s non-conference revenge tour is a home date with the Buffaloes.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Colorado
Not a game X should have lost last year.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Are you getting tired of watching Xavier games that shorten your lifespan but also not in the mood for another Kent State style walk in the park? Probably not, but on the off chance you are Colorado is the opponent for you!

The Buffs are head and shoulders above the Riders and Morehead States of the world, while not occupying the same air as a Baylor or even an Arizona State. They have ventured into the top 150 once thus far, beating Mercer to win the Paradise Jam in the sunny locale of Lynchburg, Virginia. Less than a week later, they were taking their only loss of the year at Colorado State in a game that got pretty ugly before Colorado made it respectable. Other than that, they have played a schedule that looks hand picked by Mick Cronin and Patrick Ewing.

Team Fingerprint

On the offensive end, Colorado has not taken advantage of their raft of poor opposition so far. Their achilles’ heel is turnovers, where they are in the bottom 100 teams in the nation in taking care of the ball. They like to get the ball inside a lot, but get almost no scoring output from their 5 position. They don’t shoot the three particularly well or often, although they do have a couple of decent shooters. They are pretty middle of the road when it comes to getting back their own misses, which really hamstrings them considering how many possessions they give away with turnovers.

On defense is where Colorado is really... marginally better. They allow a lot of three point attempts but opponents are shooting only 32% from deep against them inside the arc they are even better with a 43.1% mark there, although it is not the result of an abundance of blocked shots. They currently rank 24th in the nation on the defensive glass, but are a lowly 306th when it comes to forcing turnovers. I guess they think about how bad their turnovers make them feel and don’t want to give that feeling to others. Colorado Basketball: they play by the golden rule.

Players

Starters

Starting matchups
McKinley Wright IV Point Guard Quentin Goodin
Freshman Class Sophomore
6'0", 185 Measurements 6'4", 190
15.6/5.5/4.1 Game line 6.8/2.1/6.3
0.527/0.417/0.731 Shooting line 0.404/0.111/0.9
Wright spends a lot of time with the ball in his hands, using more than a quarter of the team's possessions. He will dribble into his shot at all three levels, with well under half of his buckets coming off of assists. He blocks a weird amount of shots for a dude who's barely six feet tall.
Deleon Brown Shooting Guard J.P. Macura
Sophomore Class Senior
6'4", 165 Measurements 6'5", 203
7.1/1.3/1.3 Game line 12.6/4.8/3.4
0.432/0.348/0.688 Shooting line 0.528/0.346/0.848
Named for famed explorer Ponce de Leon (maybe), Brown is a low-usage catch and shoot guy. If he has to dribble into it, he probably won't take it. He's a solid defender on the ball but doesn't offer a whole ton of versatility beyond a jumper and some D.
Namon Wright Small Forward Trevon Bluiett
Junior Class Senior
6'5", 205 Measurements 6'6", 202
11.3/3.1/1.4 Game line 21.3/5.2/2.8
0.426/0.238/0.771 Shooting line 0.536/0.468/0.882
Wright is a slasher - hey, are these guys brothers? I just checked; he and the point guard are not related. Anyway, this Wright is a slasher who can be allowed to shoot without too much concern. He's a good finisher and is good at getting to the line. If he's not within touching distance of the rim, he's not much of a threat, and he's a subpar rebounder for the SF.
George King Power Forward Kaiser Gates
Senior Class Junior
6'6", 225 Measurements 6'8", 228
14.4/8.9/1 Game line 10.4/5/1.2
0.532/0.414/0.731 Shooting line 0.431/0.444/0.778
Probably Colorado's best player, King is a beast on the glass and has range out beyond the arc. He's mostly a catch and shoot guy on jumpers, but he does his own work around the rim. For such a strong player, he doesn't get to the free throw line very much.
Dallas Walton Center Tyrique Jones
Freshman Class Sophomore
7'0", 230 Measurements 6'9", 237
2.8/3/0.7 Game line 9.8/6/0.6
0.583/1/1 Shooting line 0.735/0/0.593
Injuries have decimated Colorado at center, with starter Tory Miller-Stewart out for the year and sophomore reserve Lucas Siewert just coming back from an ankle problem. That leaves it to Walton, a slender freshman who has shot 1 three and 2 free throws to account for his gaudy percentages on the year. He figures to be in for a rough day.

Reserves

Dominique Collier is a 6’5” senior guard who lifts entirely without conscience. He shoots as well as Q but as often as Trevon. He also commits 7.5 fouls for every 40 minutes he plays, which is awful. Lucas Siewert is a 6’10” center who plays like a stretch four. He has shown good range and solid rebounding in limited action.

Tyler Bey will give some minutes at the wing positions and D’Shawn Schwartz will fill in at the forward spots. Neither will blow your doors off with their productivity.

Three Questions

-Can X boss the glass again? Colorado does not go after their own misses as fiercely as UC does, but only got back 11 of the 41 rebounds available on the offensive glass a year ago. Colorado once again prides themselves on their defensive rebounding, but Jones, O’Mara, and Kanter have been wrecking opponents in the paint for the past two weeks.

- How ready is Tyrique? Tyrique Jones has played only 29 minutes of basketball since Baylor, owing his relative sparsity of minutes to knee tendinitis. This game will be more competitive than Kent State and Xavier will probably need more than 13 minutes out of their big man, although with O’Mara and Kanter’s recent performances, there still might be room for caution.

- Can X find the stroke from three? Last year Xavier shot 7-27 from deep against Colorado and couldn't get threes to fall when they needed to. Colorado gives up a lot of three point chances but opponents haven’t shot particularly well against them. If Xavier can catch fire from deep, the Buffs whole game plan goes up in smoke. (BAM! WHAT A PUN!)

Three Keys

Stop George King- Last year, George King when for 16 and 10 and only needed 8 shots to get there. The 6’6” power forward is Colorado’s best weapon on offense and when he is bad, so are they. He has failed to reach double digits twice this year, once in their loss and once when they beat Quinnipiac by 1. He figures to match up with Kaiser and should be another test for Xavier’s stopper.

Speed up Wright- The freshman point guard was fantastic against Mercer, but has in A:TO of 10:12 in the three games since then. He is a fantastic talent, but is still very turnover prone. With how Xavier likes to run, if they can harry him into mistakes, it will lead to quick points.

Complete the tour- Xavier has a chance to set the record straight after a frustrating loss in Boulder last year. They already took scalps from Wisconson, Baylor, and UC for past defeats, now it is time to finish the job on Colorado.