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Three tactical decisions Sean Miller has to make against Texas

Xavier brought Sean Miller back for games like this one. He's been presented with some serious challenges trying to find a way through Texas.

Syndication: The Enquirer
He's probably pondering it in this picture.
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Texas is really good at basketball. Xavier is also really good at basketball. In a game like this played on an ostensibly neutral site, the fine margins can end up making the difference.

A lot of it will ultimately come down to execution. The rest will be dictated by the situations the coaching staffs (staves?) orchestrate for their players. Sean Miller is as good as anyone in the business in Xs and Os; these are three major conundrums he's going to have to work out.

Pound the glass or get back on defense?

Texas takes more than a quarter of their shots in transition, and they put up an EFG% of 55.2% on those shots. They're a full three percentage points better in EFG% in transition than they are in the half court, and they play the 60th fastest pace on offense in the nation.

Sounds like a team you'd like to get 5 guys back to defend, right? The flip side is that their biggest weakness on defense is keeping opponents off the glass. Xavier hasn't been an elite offensive rebounding club as a whole, but Jack Nunge and Jerome Hunter have each been threats for second chance points. Every run to the glass by a Xavier big on one end opens up the possibility of a rim run by a Texas big on the other. Striking the right balance will be crucial tonight.

How should Xavier cover ball screens?

Texas is in the top 25 of the nation in percentage of shots taken from mid-range and they convert an excellent 42% of them. A lot of that comes from their ball screen action, where their guards will pull up or hit the screener on the short roll. Dylan Disu alone shot 10-14 on mid-range jump shots against Penn State, and the Nittany Lions' inability to deal with him ultimately cost them the game.

Obviously plan A can't entail letting Dylan Disu drop 28 again, but Xavier also can't let the Longhorns' guards free to take away the big men. I'm sure you're aware that Xavier's guards have some defensive deficiencies; figuring out how to manage this situation is a big task for the coaching staff.

Who plays in winning time?

Texas has three excellent guards, all of whom are extremely threatening off the dribble. You don't have to go any farther than Adam Kunkel to find feedback on Souley Boum's ability to keep a guard in front, and Kunk himself has a little bit of traffic cone in him. Colby Jones can handle bigger guards, but he's only one guy and has some weaknesses against the shiftier penetrators.

Enter Des Claude, who has the size and lateral mobility to handle almost any guard off the bounce. Unfortunately, he is a liability from the free throw line, which Pitt exploited to the tune of 5-10 in Xavier's last game. The Muskies had already put that one to bed; they seem sure to need every point down the stretch against Texas. If he doesn't have the timeouts to go offense for defense and vice versa, choosing which personnel to ride or die with is going to be a huge call for Miller.