Davis never got into the flow of the Wake Forest game due to foul trouble He played only 24 minutes and finished just 2-of-7 from the field, including 0-for-3 from beyond the arc. It's been said multiple times on this site that they could use more offensive production out of him, and that is particularly the case tonight against Will Cummings and Temple. This is a good match-up for Davis. Cummings is similar in a lot of ways, though he's not nearly as involved in Temple's offense as Davis is in X's. He's not much of a scorer or shooter. He's in there to handle the ball and play a good floor game for the most part, though it is worth mentioning that he's coming off his best game of the year, an 11-point effort with 3 assists and 1 turnover at Kansas. This match-up has to be, at the very worst, a draw for Xavier, and it'd be good if Davis can give them an edge here as there aren't really any other areas in this Temple lineup where X holds an advantage.
Slight Edge Xavier
Semaj Christon Fr (6-3, 187) vs Khalif Wyatt Sr (6-4, 190)
Christon has had trouble finishing off his drives to the basket. Teams are playing off of him, secondary defenders are waiting in the lane to take a charge and he's just flat-out missed a lot of shots around the rim. Those struggles continued in the Wake Forest loss, but Christon didn't let those misses stop him. He finished off the game with a pretty strong second half, scoring 14 points, and made 8-of-10 free-throws. Credit goes to him for continuing to battle through his early frustrations in that game, and it will be interesting to see if his second half success and the freshness of the conference season can get his mind clear on the offensive end again. It won't be easy for the youngster though, as he'll be going an A-10 veteran and player of the year candidate Khalif Wyatt. Wyatt is explosive on the offensive end, capable of blowing up for a 25-30-point effort on any given night. He's coming off a 26-point effort against Kansas, and has shown up big when the Owls have needed him most this year, including dropping 33 points on Syracuse in a 83-79 win for Temple. He can shoot it from three, he can get into the lane and make shots and he does a great job of getting to the free-throw line. He's a very talented offensive player, and is a guy who could definitely take over this game.
Moderate Edge Temple
Justin Martin So (6-6, 205) vs Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson Fr (6-7, 188)
One of the biggest disappointments to Xavier's season has been the way Martin has fallen off. After opening the season by scoring in double-figures for eight-straight games, Martin sat out the Kent State game with a concussion, and hasn't hit double-figures since. Against Wake, Martin was a non-factor on offense, going 0-for-6 from the field, including 0-for-3 from the 3-point line, and finishing with just one point. He has picked his effort on the boards back up as he's averaged nine rebounds over the last two games. Hollis-Jefferson is a very unique and versatile youngster. At 6-foot-7, he's skilled and can do a lot of different things. Most notably, he's added a rim-protecting presence on the defensive end, leading the team with 17 blocks. He's also passed it really well on the offensive end, averaging a tied for team-high 3.2 assists per game from the small forward spot. Though he's not a shooter, Hollis-Jefferson has had some big scoring games this year. However, most of his big offensive games have come against sub-par competition (Rice, Towson, Bowling Green, Alcorn, Dayton). The biggest key is keeping him off the glass where he averages 5.5 rebounds a game. If both he and Martin are playing hard and working on the boards, that should be a fun battle to watch.
Isaiah Philmore Jr (6-7, 225) vs Scootie Randall Sr (6-6, 215)
Philmore is in the midst of a five-game stretch of not hitting double-figures. He isn't even really attempting shots. Against Tennessee he was aggressive in the first half and played well, but we really haven't seen him since. He only attempted four shots total in the Wake game, and still managed to score five points. He's capable of more, and this team needs his offense. Randall leads the team in minutes (35.7) and rebounding (7.5). He's more of a skilled combo-forward than a four as he'll play with the ball in his hands, passes it well, drive the ball and he'll jack threes. Getting him to settle for long jumpers is the best case scenario as a defense as he's hitting just 24.7 percent from three, but attempts 6.5 threes per game. X will have to make sure they keep him in front of them without sending him to the free-throw line, and also keep him off the glass. If they can really crowd the court and get him to settle for jump-shots, they should be in good shape.
Moderate Edge Temple
Travis Taylor Sr (6-8, 216) vs Anthony Lee So (6-9, 230)
Taylor has continued to play really well over this four-game losing strea, with another solid performance against Wake Forest. He absolutely dominated the first half, scoring 16 of X's 26 points. He finished with the double-double, 18 points and 10 boards, and was 9-of-10 from the field. As his confidence continues to grow, we've seen more and more from him on the offensive end. He's started to face guys up for a one or two dribble move off the bounce, and has tried some funky ways of getting his shot off in the post when going up against bigger players. Over the past few games, it all seems to be working for him. His play inside will be huge again in this one, especially against a Temple team that doesn't have a lot of beef inside, and has struggled rebounding the ball. Lee is having a really nice sophomore year, and has been on a pretty solid little run of his own over the last five games for Temple, scoring in double-digits in all five, including his 21-point, 9-rebound effort against Syracuse. He's big, he rebounds well, and he can finish inside, especially if he's setup for catch and score situations. This will probably be the most important match-up of the game.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Temple Bench
Xavier's staff has done a nice job of making this team a little bit deeper than it originally looked. They've done a nice job of getting Stenger in at the right spots to eat up minutes and bring energy on the boards, they've moved Brad around and played him a lot of minutes, and they've also used Landon Amos well at times. The big key though is getting production from Jeff Robinson. He showed signs of coming out of the funk that he was in against Wake Forest, scoring 10 points, with eight of them coming in the second half. If he can give them 20 minutes, 10 points and six boards every game like he did against Wake, it will make a big difference for this team's depth. Temple isn't very deep either. They go with a regular rotation of seven getting the bulk of the minutes, and nine guys total seeing time on a regular basis, even if limited. Jake O'Brien is the big concern off the Owls' bench. He's a 6-9 stretch post player that shoots 44.4 percent from 3-point range. He doesn't rebound it well, but he can shoot it, and that has led to some pretty big games on offense. His season-high is 15 points against Bowling Green two games ago. T.J. Dileo, a 6-2 guard, sees the most minutes off the bench for the Owls, but is not really a factor at all on offense. A pair of 6-5 guards in Dalton Pepper and Quenton DeCosey round out the rotation. DeCosey can shoot it from three when he gets the opportunity.
Slight Edge Temple
The Musketeers get to start over at 0-0, and start working towards their conference goals. They've been extremely tough at Cintas in the past against the A10, and they'll try to use some of that psychological edge to their advantage. Temple is one of the better teams in the conference this year, and will probably be the toughest team on Xavier's schedule to date. Xavier is good enough to stay with this team. If the Musketeers continue to lock in on defense and on the glass as they have over the last few games, they'll be in this game in the second half. As we all know, the key to winning for Xavier will be whether or not they can put the ball in the basket well enough to pull off a win, even if they're in position to do so. I don't expect this losing streak to continue much longer, but it's very difficult to pick a win over a team of Temple's caliber with X's current offensive deficiencies.
Score Prediction: Temple 63 Xavier 57