Xavier will get a strong test today in the Wooden Legacy semifinals against Texas El-Paso. Here's a 3-point preview of today's matchup from Fullerton, California.
1) Where was Myles Davis against San Diego?
If sitting on the bench the whole game is cool, consider me Myles Davis.
Except, Myles has averaged a tad over 21 minutes a game so far this year. Could it be Chris Mack saw unfavorable match-ups for the redshirt sophomore? Did Mack slide Edmond Sumner above Davis on the depth chart? Those were questions running through my head during the game. Realistically, none of those scenarios could be true.
After the game, Chris Mack was appropriately asked why Myles had not played. His response was that Myles "made a dumb decision off the floor" and he decided not to play him. Mack then went on to say, "I think you'll see him back in uniform tomorrow." That answers all of our assumptions as to why Myles was keeping a seat warm the entire game.
If not playing in today's game, but then being told I'll play in tomorrow's game is cool, consider me Myles Davis.
2) Catch, Shoot, and Fire.
There ain't nothing like someone with a quick trigger. JP Macura and Trevon Bluiett have very quick triggers. In the 2nd half, JP-Three hit three three-pointers and scored a layup in a short amount of time to blow open the game for Xavier. A couple minutes later, Trey-von hit a NBA triple and a step back behind the back jumper on consecutive possessions.
Both of these freshmen have ridiculous fast strokes. JP hit his final three with a hand in his face from the corner, barely even glancing at the basket before he let it rip. Trevon's three that came a little bit later was equally difficult. He caught it, rose up from about NBA range with no hesitation, and hit the bottom of the net.
These guys are itching to rise and fire every opportunity they get, and like the next Xavier fan, I am loving it. It is amazing what confidence can do in the game of basketball, and both Macura and Bluiett are so confident in their shooting, they just catch, shoot, and fire!
3) Xavier needs to shut down Vince Hunter.
I had a chance to watch the Princeton-UTEP game earlier in the day, and UTEP's Vince Hunter is an animal. He was all over the place against Princeton, hunting the Tigers down the whole game. He finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. In UTEPs three games, he is averaging 18.5 ppg and 13 rpg. Against Pac-12 member Washington State two weeks ago, Hunter scored 14 points, collected 16 boards, got 2 steals, and rejected 2 shots.
Xavier needs to shut down the 6-foot-8, 205-pound Hunter today. If they can limit the second chance and fast-break opportunities he creates with his rebounding, that will put the pressure on UTEP's other players. Jalen Reynolds and James Farr should draw Hunter for most of the game, and both of them need to continue their good play of late. If not, Hunter may be the reason UTEP pulls away and advances to the Championship game of the Wooden Legacy tournament.
Prediction: The Miners are the toughest opponent Xavier has faced all season. It shows in the closeness of the game, but not in the final score. X wins, 80-74.