Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI
When: 8:30pm EST
- Providence and Xavier will meet for the 8th time on Tuesday with the Musketeers leading the series, 4-3. The Friars are 3-0 against Xavier in Providence. In Xavier’s two previous seasons in the Big East, each team has won their home games to split the Big East series, 2-2.
- Xavier is 17-2 (5-2) on the season. The Musketeers are led by Chris Mack, who is in his 7th season at the helm of the Xavier program. The Musketeers have defeated Butler, DePaul and Seton Hall at home and Marquette and St. John’s on the road. Their two losses come in the league opener against Villanova at home and last Tuesday at home against Georgetown. The Musketeers are led in scoring by sophomore Trevon Bluiett, who averages 15.4 points/game. Senior James Farr is the leading rebounder, averaging 9.1 rebounds/game.
- The Friars moved back into the Top 10 this week in both polls after winning both of their games last week. Providence defeated then top 20 Butler at home on Tuesday and won at then 4th ranked Villanova on Sunday. This is the first time Providence has been ranked in the AP Poll for 9 straight weeks since the 1977-78 season.
- Kris Dunn is closing in on some career milestones. Dunn currently has 978 points, 474 assists, 421 rebounds and 179 steals. Should Dunn get to the 1,000 point, 500 assist and 200 steal clubs, he would become the only player in school history to have accomplished all of those feats. 500 rebounds is also within his grasp. Dunn would have to average 7.2 rebounds/game over the final 11 games to do it in the regular season.
- Opening Line: (10) Providence +0.5 vs (7) Xavier 1/26/16
Providence has rebounded nicely from their sluggish play that resulted in two home losses. Beating Butler at home last Tuesday and then going on the road, waiting an extra day due to a snowstorm and going toe-to-toe with the top dog of the league only to leave Philadelphia with a streak-snapping win were certainly highlights for Ed Cooley’s team. Now the Friars will take on another top Big East team on Tuesday night in Xavier. The Musketeers went undefeated in the non-conference portion of the schedule and their only two losses come against Villanova on New Year’s Eve — a game in which they lost their starting point guard early on due to injury — and at home last Tuesday to a Georgetown team that made ten 3-pointers and shot 50.9% from the field for the game. Chris Mack has one of the deepest teams in the Big East and they seem to have found the answer to their biggest question mark heading into the season in Edmond Sumner. Sumner has provided excellent point guard play for the Musketeers and the redshirt freshman is playing above his expectations this season.
The probable starters according to the game notes and prior box scores are:
- Kyron Cartwright – #24 – Sophomore
- Kris Dunn – #3 – Junior
- Junior Lomomba – #32 – Junior
- Rodney Bullock – #5 – Sophomore
- Ben Bentil – #0 – Sophomore
- Edmond Sumner – #4 – Freshman
- Myles Davis – #15 – Junior
- Remy Abell – #10 – Senior
- Trevon Bluiett – #5 -Sophomore
- Jalen Reynolds – #1 – Junior
Xavier sports one of the deepest rosters in the Big East. They have 6’10 James Farr coming off the bench at times and he’s 3rd in the Big East in rebounding at 9.1/game. Farr has been very good and went for a career high 24 points last time out against Seton Hall. He also had 15 rebounds in that game. Against Marquette on January 16th, Farr had a 16 point, 19 rebound game. The 19 boards were also a career high. The senior is coming into his own in his final year of college basketball. He has already scored 51 more points than he did all of last season and is just 20 rebounds shy of his total from a year ago. His per game numbers have jumped from 4.2 points/game and 5.3 rebounds/game last season to 10.8 points/game and 9.1 rebounds/game this year. Farr isn’t Xavier’s best player, but I wanted to point out his improvement because he may be a key player in this game. I don’t think the Friars will have the success scoring in the paint that they did against Villanova on Sunday.
The Edmond Sumner/Kris Dunn matchup will be one to watch tonight. Sumner is having a breakout season as a redshirt freshman for Chris Mack. He is being compared, somewhat, to Dunn in terms of their size and length at the point guard position and ability to create offense in the pick and roll. Dunn may just take the rookie to school in this game when the buzzer finally sounds.
Remy Abell is Xavier’s best on-ball defender and he will likely draw the initial assignment of guarding Dunn, though Mack may rotate some players and mix in his patented 1-3-1 zone. If Providence can make open shots, especially against Xavier’s zone, they will win this game. I think this is the game Jalen Lindsey snaps out of his funk and hits a big shot or two.
Look for at least one technical foul to be called in this game. My prediction? A double technical called on Jalen Reynolds and Ben Bentil.
Prediction: Providence 76 Xavier 75
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