What To Expect:
-Xavier, in a rebuilding year, actually takes fewer shots than URI does per game. Xavier takes 65 shots per game (URI takes 72). This explains how Xavier and URI both score in the low-to-mid-60’s each game. URI scores 62ppg and Xavier scores 65ppg. The difference being that Xavier is shooting 46% from the field while URI shoots 40%. Outside of FG%, all of the numbers are fairly comparable. This game will almost definitely be a low-scoring affair and not too many fast break opportunities.
-The 3-point shot will not be much of a focus or factor for Xavier (or URI’s defense) as only 20% of Xavier’s shots are from 3. While URI isn’t setting the world on fire shooting threes at a 32% clip, Xavier isn’t much better at 34% and their top 3 scorers only account for 32% of Xavier’s 3’s.
-This will be a battle of which team can be less inept at the FT line. Both shooting in the low-60% range. Expect this to be a focal point of each team’s defensive scheme.
-Xavier Munford will get his 18 points as he sets his sights for that scoring title in the A10. I know URI is not mathematically eliminated from the A-10 tournament as of yet, but they are a game back of the last spot (#12) and would need Dayton to lose one more game than URI does down the stretch AND St. Bonaventure needs to lose two more times (because they own the tie-breaker over URI). URI plays Xavier, Temple, La Salle, and UMass down the stretch. I find it highly unlikely that URI makes the tournament so if URI can’t make the tournament, Munford should be able to bring something home to URI in the form of that scoring title. I hope he goes for it and I hope he gets it. I do not, in any way, think that would be too selfish in anyway. It has been a disappointing season and this would be at least a small bright spot.
-Looking at URI’s remaining schedule, it’s weird to say that Xavier is the last truly winnable game. Usually Xavier is the class of the A10 but this year they are just straight up mediocre. They are 3-6 on the road this season while URI is 5-7 at home. URI can absolutely steal this game from Xavier. This could very well be a trap game for Xavier as their next 2 games are against #24 VCU and #21 Memphis (this game is on ESPN2). It is very easy to overlook a 8-16 team when you have a ranked opponent at home 3 days later. That, unfortunately for Xavier, is a huge mistake as URI has played everybody tough (even VCU and Butler).
Defensive Strategies Against Top 3 Players:
-Semaj Christon (#0): 6’3” 187lbs. G. This is their star player. He puts up 15 points, 5 assists, and 4 turnovers per game. He is a freshman making an immediate impact for this team. He hates shooting the 3-pointer. He only shoots 17% from deep and has only taken 23 of them on the season (1 per game). This means that, since he has the highest shot total on the team, he likes to take it to the basket (nobody prefers the mid-range jumper as their first choice for a shot selection). Taking it to the basket is perfect for URI as he only shoots 63% from the FT line and the sample size is huge (85 of 135). Foul him and foul him often. Make this guy earn his points. Can’t let him get to the basket as he is shooting 46% from the field.
-Travis Taylor (#4): 6’8” 216lbs. F. He has the size to play the 3 or 4 spot. He certainly has the stats of a PF (the “4 spot”): 57% percent shooting but only 0% from 3-point range…that’s right ZERO PERCENT. He is a “go to the basket” type of player as he is second (only behind Christon) on the team in free throw attempts. He only is shooting 58% from the FT line; which is terrible. This guy, as with Christon should be fouled often. It’s strange, the top 2 FT takers on Xavier combine for 48% of Xavier’s total FT attempts. Yup, almost half, for just those 2 players. They also combine for 61% free throw shooting. This is a DREAM scenario for URI.
-Dee Davis (#11): 6’0” 161lbs. G. Davis is definitely the fall back option for Xavier. If Taylor and Christon aren’t open or one or both of them are off the floor at the time, then Davis is the next option on offense. Pretty pedestrian numbers: 9ppg, 1rpg, 5apg. He has decent shooting percentages but just doesn’t get too many looks as most shots are dominated by Taylor and Christon. Davis’s value is from 3-point land. He is second on the team in 3’s taken and second in 3’s made. Like I said above, only 1of 5 shots are 3’s so URI can play the numbers and not focus too much on trying to shut this guy down. URI can effectively defend him by just being quick to close out and make sure Davis doesn’t get that open shot.