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Marquette vs. Xavier Preview

Team

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

Probable Starters:
1: Quentin Goodin: 6-4 194 lb FR PG: 19.0 mpg, 4.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.5 tpg, .336 FG%, .528 FT%, .323 3P%
2: JP Macura: 6-5 203 lb JR SG: 32.6 mpg, 14.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.2 bpg, 2.1 tpg, .421 FG%, .812 FT%, .328 3P%
3: Malcolm Bernard: 6-6 202 lb RSSR SF: 27.8 mpg, 5.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .391 FG%, .588 FT%, .387 3P%
4: Kaiser Gates: 6-8 228 lb SO SF: 20.1 mpg, 5.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.5 tpg, .365 FG%, .696 FT%, .347 3P%
5: RaShid Gaston: 6-9 239 lb RSSR C: 20.4 mpg, 8.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.7 bpg, 1.2 tpg, .586 FG%, .507 FT%, .000 3P%

Probable Bench:
Sean O’Mara: 6-10 244 lb JR C: 12.0 minutes per game
Tyrique Jones: 6-9 237 lb FR PF: 10.6 minutes per game

Probable Benchwarmers:
Tim Stainbrook: 6-6 208 lb SR SF
Alex Bergen: 6-5 205 lb SR SG
Leighton Schrand: 6-0 155 lb FR PG
Cullen Barr: 6-7 233 lb SR PF
Conor Peterson: 6-6 180 lb FR SG
Trevon Bluiett: 6-6 198 lb JR SG (Likely Injured)
Edmond Sumner: 6-6 186 lb RSSO PG (Injured)

Notes:
• No team has had their roster more devastated than Xavier. First, they lose former starter Myles Davis to an off-campus issue involving a female student and a busted smart phone. Then, star PG and NBA hopeful Edmond Sumner tears his ACL, ending his season. Most recently, leading scorer Trevon Blueitt sprains his ankle and has to miss the Providence game. As of this writing, he is still day to day and appears to be unlikely to play. With these three down, Xavier is down to 7 players in their rotation and only 2 players who were pegged to be starters before the season started.
• Looking at Xavier’s season stats are almost useless because they are such a different team without Sumner and Blueitt.
• True freshman Quinten Goodin has been asked to run the point since Sumner went down with injury against St. John’s. He stepped up admirably against the Red Storm, scoring 16 on 4-5 shooting, while also getting to the line 9 times. Since then, he has shown some good distribution ability averaging almost 6 assists a game. His scoring has left a lot to be desired. He has shot a miserable 13 for 55 from the floor (23.6%), including a 1-14 performance against Villanova.
• The main scoring threat for the Musketeers is now JP Macura. The former Big East Sixth Man of the Year isn’t quite the sharpshooter he was last season, but he has been putting up big numbers since joining the starting lineup. He is on a seven game streak of double digit scoring performances, and has reached that mark in 15 of his last 16 games. He has sneaky athleticism and is adept at putting the ball on the floor and scoring off the dribble. He is also not afraid to let the three ball fly, leading the team (not including injured players) in 3PAs. He has had some difficulty finding his shot since Sumner went down, going 7-27 (25.9%) from deep.
• There were a lot of questions about RaShid Gaston coming into the season. Could a former MEAC player who averaged a double double survive in the much more physical and talented Big East? While not a world beater, Gaston has been a solid presence inside for Xavier, scoring about 8 points and grabbing nearly 7 boards a game. He is coming off his two best performances of the season, two double doubles and his two highest point totals. Unfortunately for Xavier, they have wasted these outings, losing both and putting up 2 of their 4 lowest scoring outputs of the season. In fact, Gaston has accounted for a whopping 35% of Xavier’s scoring in the past two games.
• When Malcolm Bernard transferred from Florida A&M, one of the worst programs in Division 1, it was hard to imagine him having a major role for a Big East Contender. The departure of Myles Davis open a spot in the starting lineup and Bernard seized it. Bernard earned that spot with his defense, often drawing the toughest assignment. His 6-6 frame and length allows him to guard positions 1-4 effectively. On offense, he does most of his damage from beyond the arc, making 29 of his 52 made FGs from there with very good accuracy. He struggles inside the arc lacking the skill to drive and the strength to finish at the rim.
• Kaiser Gates has held the role of sixth man the entire season but injuries have afforded him the opportunity to start for the Musketeers. He brings a good rebounding presence, has size, and can stretch the floor with his shooting. However, despite his size, you would never call Gates an interior player. He is not a rim defender and struggles to score inside in the arc. In fact, he has only made 12 2P FGs the entire season. He is a feast or famine player when shooting the three. He’s had some big shooting nights going 4/7 against George Washington, 4-6 against St. John’s and 3-4 against Seton Hall without Sumner. However, for every one of those, there have been two 1-4 performances or worse. Neutralizing Gates as a shooter should be one of the easier defensive priorities for Marquette.
• Xavier’s bench is down to two lightly used backup post players. Before the injuries, they often worked by committee with Gaston to hold down the 5 spot. Neither can shoot the three and they struggle to guard in space. This essentially requires Goodin, Macura, and Bernard to play for the entire game. Most of the time they will be spelling Gates or Gaston. True freshman Tyrique Jones has really stepped since Sumner went down, seeing his minutes go up substantially. He had big outing in their win at Creighton where he went 8-8 from the floor with 16 points and 4 rebounds. Despite the potential of the bench, Xavier’s lack of depth is very concerning. They seemed to just run out of gas against Providence. If there is any amount of foul trouble to key players, Xavier will have no answer.

Prediction:

This is a hard one to write. Xavier is such a different team without Blueitt. All signs point to him being out but his presence would change how Marquette game plans entirely. Wojo and his staff would have certainly prepared as if he were going to play. Without him, Xavier is a team with no bench, very little three-point shooting, and not a ton of offensive firepower. In short, they are the perfect opponent for Marquette. Marquette can turn up the tempo, turn this into a shootout, and Xavier simply won’t have the guns to keep up. Earlier this week, I wrote a piece on why Marquette needed to get rid of the zone defense and focus on man. Xavier doesn’t feature many dominating athletes and they have two starters who struggle to score inside the arc (Gates and Bernard). A man can neutralize those scoring options and require Goodin, Macura, and Gaston to keep up with Marquette on their own. Gaston is coming off his two best performances but he has not had to face a big with the size of Fischer during that stretch. Goodin has struggled mightily scoring the ball. That leaves Macura and he cannot do it on his own. Even if Xavier is able to take advantage of the man and score a lot of 2P FGs, they will not be able to keep up with Marquette shooting threes. Marquette should not be afraid to have quick triggers. The more they push Xavier, the more they will wear out their starters and force them to rely on their bench. Marquette should win this one comfortably if Blueitt is out. If Blueitt does play, it changes the game immensely. He is an elite scorer who is only a few weeks removed from a 40-point performance against crosstown rival Cincinnati. His three-point shooting could keep Xavier in the game and even win it. However, there is no way Blueitt would be 100% after spraining his ankle a week ago. That sluggishness should be enough that Marquette still squeaks out a much needed win.

Final Score (w/o Blueitt):
Marquette: 86
Xavier: 72

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Categories: Home, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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