Where: Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
When: 6:30 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Go
Line: Xavier -4.5
All-Time Series: Baylor 3-0
Tuesday night will mark the second game of a home-and-home series between the two teams. Last year, the Bears bested the Musketeers 76-61 in Waco behind a 24 point day for point guard Manu Lecomte. Head coach Chris Mack said, “Lecomte is a terrific guard. He manhandled us a year ago. He got in the lane.”
“Baylor has had our number,” Mack said during Monday’s press conference. “I think what Scott Drew has done with the program since he took over is remarkable and probably doesn't get enough credit nationally.”
Xavier stalled in its loss to now No. 20 ranked Arizona State and its one glaring weakness, that is, to effectively defend smaller guards, was exposed. It faces another scoring threat guard in Lecomte, who has had a productive season thus far averaging 19 points per game.
Even with the departure of Johnathan Motley, the Musketeers still face a daunting task having to guard seven-footer Jo Lual-Acuil Sr. He is a key piece for the Bears averaging a double-double with 14 points per game and 11.2 rebounds per game. When asked “What do you do with a seven-footer, senior Sean O’Mara chuckled and responded, “Whatever you can, keep them away from the hoop I guess.”
He also commented that “I think it's’ going to be a great game. I think they [Baylor] are a great team... Ideally, we’d like to pay them back a little bit, but it’s a great team and it’s going to be a great fight.”
Mack also commented on Baylor’s methodical style of play saying that, “They are a little bit more football team like, you know, we’re going to run a play, we’re going to walk the ball up and we’re going to use our size to our advantage.”
Home Sweet Home
Fact: Xavier loves Cintas Center and they win there a lot. When playing at Cintas Center, the Musketeers have an all-time record of 231-55, which is nearly an 87 percent winning percentage. Going into the game against Baylor, Xavier carries a 33-game winning streak at home against nonconference opponents.
Bluiett back to his normal self
Trevon Bluiett, while he didn’t perform that poorly, had what can be considered an off game in Xavier’s first loss of the season against Arizona State with just 11 points. He has reaped success against the Bears in the past, scoring 23 points in the loss to them last season. When at the top of his game, Bluiett is easily one of the best scorers in the nation and the Bears should view him as a serious scoring threat.
Emergence of Kerem Kanter
Kanter had a great Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational with a 12 point showing against Arizona State. Mack talked in the press conference about Kanter saying, “What I saw on Friday out of Kerem is what we anticipated in the preseason...He was terrific early on in preseason practices before anyone in the public saw him.” He continued to mention that Kanter did not perform up to par in the first few games of the season and he “completely flipped that while we were out in Las Vegas. It gives me a lot of confidence as a coach.”
The Musketeers have a tall task ahead of them with the Bears coming into town and they look to bounce back from a potential “good” loss against an Arizona State team that may run the table in the Pac-12. If Xavier can pull off a victory, it will pad its resume with a marquee victory, which will be all important come March.