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Xavier v. Lipscomb: Preview, matchup, keys to the game

Xavier returns to Cincinnati from South Carolina to take on a team from Nashville.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Lipscomb Bison are not a great basketball team. They are currently 3-4, but one of their wins came outside of Division One. Now 196th in the KenPom, they have lost to Middle Tennessee and Tennessee State, and just scraped by Tennessee Tech. After being the mid/low-major team that everyone want to advocate for to make the tournament last year, the Bison aren’t going anywhere this year.

Xavier, meanwhile, comes into this game harboring real ambition. The Musketeers are 6-1, have beaten UConn and Missouri, and have shot over 30% from ,behind the arc in both of their last two games. More than just that sharpshooting, Xavier is finally getting healthy. Both Kyky Tandy and Daniel Ramsey are expected to make their season debut against Lipscomb. For a team that has struggled with depth and offense at times, the reinforcements could hardly be more timely.

Personnel

Starters

Ahsan Asadullah is probably the best player Lipscomb has. A 6'9", 277 center, he is effective as well as thicc. He's not much of a go-to guy on the post, but he hoovers the glass on both ends and defends the rim well in addition to averaging 13 and 11. KJ Johnson is the team's leading scorer. He's a super skinny 6'1" freshman guard who averages 14 PPG. His whole game is getting all the way to the rim, but he is 7-10 two-point jumpers. He's just 6-19 from deep.

Andrew Fleming is a 6'5" wing who averages 9.9 PPG and will play all three perimeter positions. He has decent ball distribution skills and is also 6-19 from deep. Guards Miles Miller and Michael Buckland round out the backcourt.

When I get home from Thanksgiving, we'll bring back the matchup grid.

Reserves

Parker Hazen is a 6'7" wing who will fill in at the 3 and the 4. He's a really good defensive rebounder who can't shoot that much. Jake Wolfe might be the closest thing they have to a bench scorer, despite an ORtg of 92.2. He has gotten to the line well and been effective as a slasher.

Carson Cary is a bit of a wild card. He's a 6'0" freshman guard who hasn't gotten a ton of run, but he's 7-10 from behind the arc in Lipscomb's last two games. Kaleb Coleman is a 6'6" wing shooter who hasn't been making shots this year. He doesn't rebound at either end and doesn't have any assists this season, so he needs shots to go down.

Lipscomb is 9th in the nation in bench minutes right now, so just about anyone on the roster might get in. They're deep in bodies, but not particularly in talent.

Team fingerprint:

Defensively Lipscomb only does two things even passably well, but those two could give Xavier real problems. The Bison forcce opponents to turn the ball over on 22% of their possessions. Most of this comes not from steals, but from forcing the opponent to throw the ball away. X does this with 11% of their possessions anyway. Lipscomb also holds opponents to only 29.7% shooting from deep.

On offense the Bison struggle. Right now they are 223rd in the nation in efficiency. That means that in their seven games, they’ve only scored more than a point per possession in three of them. None of those three came in the two top 100 games Lipscomb have played. The best thing the Bison do is score inside, but they still only shoot 51.2% on two point shots, good for 104th in the nation.

Three questions:

- Can Xavier keep from turning it over? Even against bad teams (Missouri St) Xavier has turned the ball over a lot. For the season the Musketeers turn it over 20% of the time they have it. As mentioned before, 11% of those turnovers come from just throwing the ball away. That’s the recipe to lose to a bad team.

- How many minutes for Kyky and Ramsey? Daniel Ramsey has been doing his impression of the The Invisible Man on Xavier Twitter. When he arrives on the court he should bolster the defense and also can step out and can make a shot or two. In games when Tyrique and Zach Freemantle need some time off the court to rest, Ramsey can give them that. Kyky has been well advertised and should, should, provide an immediate boost to the offense that has struggled to get going. The temptation will be to lean on them a lot immediately, but it will likely behoove Travis Steele to bring them along slowly.

- Is Quentin Goodin shooting threes what this team needs? Q made four of his first 15 but has since knocked down 4-9. He’s not going to be a scorer and he shouldn’t be a volume shooter, but he demonstrated in the last minutes of Florida what he can do if given rhythm looks. Maybe that’s the answer.

Three keys:

- Make some shots: These don’t even need to be threes, but Xavier needs to start making something. In the first game the Musketeers made two thirds of their shots inside the arc, since then they have shot 47.24% inside. That would put them in the mid 200s for the year. That’s not going to get the job done. The three point shooting is well documented.

- Crash the glass: Lipscomb is horrendous at keeping teams off the offensive glass. There aren’t even 30 teams in the country that are worse. Xavier has been excellent recently at getting to the offensive glass. If they continue to do that, they can make up for any shots that many be falling.

- Take what is offered: There’s an easy win to be had here. The Musketeers need to go ahead take it. Blood the new guys, shake off the rust, onward and upward.