After knocking off IUPUI 82-69 in the season-opener, the Xavier Musketeers face off against another opponent from the Hoosier State: the Evansville Purple Aces.
The Musketeers and Aces are actually more familiar with one another than the modern college hoops fan would expect. From 1979 to 1994, both schools were members of the Midwestern City/Collegiate Conference, now known as the Horizon League. Xavier leads the all-time series 26-14, 23-13 since 1949.
Time & Place: 4:00pm ET; Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
TV: Syndicated by FSN, on Fox Sports Ohio in Cincinnati (Adam Alexander, Doug Gottlieb).
Radio: 700 WLW-AM (Xavier; Joe Sunderman, Byron Larkin)
Gambling (via OddsShark): The Musketeers are 18-point favorites against Evansville. Both schools are 0-1 against the spread.
Meet the Combatants
About the Musketeers
The Musketeers kicked off the season with a team victory. Grad transfer Ryan Welage rode a second half scoring surge to a game-high 24 points, which included six 3-pointers. Tyrique Jones dunked his way to 17 points and Naji Marshall followed up with 13 points (despite going 0-of-6 from 3-point range) and a game-high seven assists.
The Musketeers will probably have another team effort in this game. The key will be to not let up on their opponent. Xavier only had a one-point lead over IUPUI as late as 15:53 in the second half. Putting away smaller teams early will set a better tone for down the line when the competition inevitable gets tougher.
About the Other Guys
The Evansville Purple Aces of the Missouri Valley Conference are entering a new era. The school fired head coach Marty Simmons after 11 seasons and a 184-175 record. In his place, they brought in former Boston Celtics assistant Walter McCarty, an Evansville native.
McCarty inherits a team that finished 2017-18 with a 17-15 record, 7-11 in the MVC. They were able to lock down opponents, but couldn’t score themselves. Evansville had the 29th-best defensive rating in the nation (96.6), but the 296th-ranked offensive rating (99.0).
The Purple Aces lost six players from their 2018 squad, with four graduating, one transferring, and another grad transferring. Junior K.J. Riley and his 6.8 points per game were the most of any returnee. He paced the team with 14 points in their 99-60 season-opening loss at Illinois.