Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
When: 5:30 p.m. (EST)
Watch On: FOX
Line: Xavier -6.5
All-Time Record: Arizona State 2-1
This may very well be Xavier’s biggest test of the season. Yes, even after it defeated perennial power Wisconsin just over a week ago. This matchup features two of the nation’s top teams in terms of their scoring efficiencies. Xavier averages 92 points per game and ranks second in the country in field goal percentage, converting 57 percent of its shots. Arizona State averages 94 points per game, and ranks sixth in the nation, shooting 54 percent from the field.
May the best offense win in this one.
Both Xavier and Arizona State have multiple players that put up a significant amount of points per game. It should be a terrific display, with two teams that excel at scoring the basketball.
Xavier’s defense will be put to the test in Veags on Friday night. They’ll face a Sun Devils team that has five players who average double figures. They are headlined by Tra Holder, who has put up 20 points per game in the early goings. Not far behind him is Shannon Evans II, who averages 19. Romello White has played one less game than the aforementioned Holder and Evans, but still averages 18.5 points. Two other scoring threats will be Kodi Justice and De'Quon Lake, who average 15.4 and 13.8 points per game respectfully.
If the Musketeers are going to win this game, they are going to have to do two things: Outscore the Sun Devils and shut them down on defense. Sounds like a key to victory for most games, right?
The two players who will be tested the most will be Quentin Goodin and Paul Scruggs Both young guards will be tasked with stopping ASU’s two top scorers, who are both seniors. Have no fear though: Goodin is a tenacious on-ball defender and this will pose a great opportunity for the freshman Scruggs to gain exposure against polished scorers.
What to watch for
An offensive battle
- Two of the nation’s top scoring teams squaring off against each other means one thing: a high octane scoring frenzy. Both teams can put up some serious offensive production, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a high scoring affair.
Kaiser gets getting hot from 3
Gates is at his best when his three-point stroke is on. Gates was inconsistent at times last year with his shooting, but he also was coming off of offseason knee surgery. He is primed for a great junior season as a part of the starting lineup, provided he can drill it from deep. In the first three games of the season, Gates dropped double-digit points, and slightly regressed back with 8 and 6 points in Xavier’s last two games. Nevertheless, he has shown vast improvement in his defense which makes him invaluable to the Musketeers lineup and he can be a game changer with his size and shooting output.
When will we see the return of the 1-3-1?
Chris Mack normally employs a man-to-man defense against Xavier foes, but last year, we also saw him mix things up on defense opting to switch to a 1-3-1 zone defense to disrupt offensive flow. This worked particularly well with the scrappy J.P. Macura as the point man on the top of the zone. Perhaps with the scoring efficiency of the Sun Devils, Mack may break out his zone defense that has yet to be seen this year.