The Matchups: Xavier vs Morehead State

Before every game MusketeerReport breaks down the position by position matchups for X's opponent. This edition focuses on Friday night's match-up against Morehead State at the Cintas Center.

Brandon Randolph Fr (6-1, 190) vs Kareem Storey Jr (5-10, 190)

Storey is the classic small distributing point guard. He had 15 assists in the Eagles' home-opening win against NAIA Mid-Continent, but only scored four points on four shot attempts while his teammates were filling it up against the overmatched opponent. Storey is well traveled after playing his freshman year at Utah and then last year at the College of Southern Idaho. He's a tough kid and he's not going to be intimidated by coming into the Cintas Center and playing X. The Musketeers just have to keep him in front and not allow him into the lane where he can make plays for his teammates, as he's not much of a threat to score at all from the outside. This is a good match-up for Randolph. Storey is a guard with a similar game, but he's not as talented as Randolph and he's a little bit smaller. The freshman has been calm and confident for Xavier so far through two games. He hasn't shot the ball well yet, but he's had a higher assist rate and lower turnover rate than Semaj Christon while the team has been relying on him heavily to run the show with Dee Davis out. If he gets his shot going down in a game like this, it could boost his confidence and stimulate his development in the offense.

Slight Edge Xavier

Semaj Christon So (6-3, 190) vs Angelo Warner Jr (6-2, 195)

Warner is a really nice mid-major player. He's an efficient scorer that takes and makes good 3-point looks, makes his free-throws and passes well. He put up 25 in the win over East Tennessee State, and made 4-of-9 from 3-point range, plus 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. He's also a strong guy that will rebound well and make plays on the defensive end. If he draws the Christon match-up on defense, then Xavier's star will have to be much more aggressive than he's been early in the first two games of the season. Drawing fouls on Warner early in the contest could allow the Musketeers to pull away early and play with a cushion, instead of giving the Eagles' hope of an upset by allowing them to stay in it. While he hasn't been all that aggressive on the offensive end through the first two games, Christon has still played well (other than his free-throws) and has led the team in scoring. He has been outstanding at bailing the team out late in the shot clock, and also finishing through contact, but it will be interesting to see if he starts dominating the ball a little bit more at some point in the near future.

Moderate Edge Xavier

Justin Martin Jr (6-7, 215) vs Brent Arrington So (6-3, 180)

This is where Morehead's lack of size shows a little bit. Even though they have legit size in the post, they have to start a three-guard lineup. That obviously works well for Xavier, as Mack has used a three-guard lineup with Myles Davis plenty already this year. Arrington is a good athlete, decent shooter, good passer and a solid defender. He had six assists and no turnovers in the season opener, despite playing only 19 minutes with foul trouble in the blowout win. He followed that up with an efficient 15 point effort against East Tennessee, and even knocked down 2-of-5 from beyond the arc to go with four steals on defense. Martin is available to play according to Mack, but it's not publicly known whether he'll start or not. This is the type of match-up where he needs to utilize his tools and use them to his advantage. He needs to play aggressively in the lane and on the glass on offense. He can score well around the basket, and seeing a few buckets go down could help get him going from the outside where he could really make an impact on this team. Regardless of how well he's scoring, he can definitely make his presence felt by crashing the glass on both ends and giving Xavier a size advantage.

Even

Erik Stenger Sr (6-8, 207) vs Billy Reader Jr (6-10, 260)

Reader has legit size and a big body. He has decent hands and the ability to score on the block, though he's not a tremendous low-post finisher. He's not super aggressive and physical, nor is he a good athlete. Xavier has to keep him him off of the offensive glass and limit his opportunity for easy second-chance points, and he should be a non-threat for the most part. Stenger is the one guy you don't worry about having a letdown in a game like this, playing a mid-major right after a hard-fought win over one of the best the SEC has to offer. Stenger is the same guy every day, practice or game. He's shown an improved ability to finish around the basket this year, and could be able to out-quick Reader and use his superior athleticism to his advantage on the offensive end. Either way, he's proven that he'll help Xavier win the battle of the boards and give a solid effort on defense.

Slight Edge Xavier

Matt Stainbrook Jr (6-10, 263) vs Chad Posthumus Sr (6-11, 265)

Posthumus wasn't met with much resistance in the Eagles' opener against undersized NAIA program Mid-Continent, as he scored an efficient 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting to go with eight rebounds in 19 minutes of action. The redshirt senior wide-body has proven himself as one of the top rebounders in the OVC. Last year he averaged 7.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 33 games. He was eighth in the conference in rebounding and second in offensive boards. He pulled down 19 rebounds against SIU Edwardsville last January. He's a solid post player, but he's going to have his hands full going up against a guy who is about the same size in Stainbrook. The Musketeers big man has been everything he was billed as in the preseason so far in the first two games. He put up the double-double and controlled the paint against Gardner-Webb, and then was just as impressive in the win over Tennessee against two of the top big men in the SEC. Morehead wants to pressure the ball and create some turnovers, but if they extend out on the guards and space the floor on defense, the Musketeers showed against Tennessee that they're comfortable to play through Stainbrook. There aren't many teams that are going to be able to defend him one-on-one in the post if their defense isn't crowding the floor.

Significant Edge Xavier

Xavier Bench vs Morehead State Bench

When 6-4 senior wing Bakari Turner comes into the game, he's checks in with one mission, and that's to shoot as many shots as possible while he's on the court. Last year he averaged 8.2 points and was named the OVC's Sixth Man of the Year. He played 26 minutes in the win over Mid-Content, and finished 7-of-19 from the field, including 2-of-10 from 3-point range. Senior Drew Kelly played 24.8 minutes per game as a sophomore and 20.8 as a junior. He got the start against East tennessee State and played 26 minutes, after playing just five in the season opener. He can provide some size and toughness off the bench. Serbian guard Luka Pajkovic is a 6-3 shooter that will come in and look for open 3-point opportunities. He had 10 points in 14 minutes in the Eagles' first game. Greg Dotson is a freshman looking to make an immediate impact for Morehead's bench. The athletic 6-5 forward played 25 minutes and posted 13 points, six boards and three blocks against Mid-Continent but played just five minutes against East Tennessee State. Xavier is finally at full strength for the first time this year with Dee Davis and Justin Martin back in the lineup. We're not quite sure if Martin will start or not, but he'll be back in the regular rotation. It will be interesting to see exactly where Dee will fit into the rotation in his first game back, as Myles Davis and Brandon Ranolph have played really well. Dee will give Mack a lot more depth to work with in the backcourt and another defensive leader on the court. Myles Davis has proven himself as a difference-maker off the bench already, and he'll probably see a lot of minutes in this one with it being a good match-up for him. James Farr and Isaiah Philmore will also give the Musketeers good minutes off the bench in the post, and if X can open up a big enough lead for Jalen Reynolds to get on the court for an extended period of time, we could see a breakout game from him too, as the Eagles' definitely don't have someone to match his length and athleticism inside. This will be the first game where we really get to see that depth that was talked about so much in the preseason for Xavier.

Moderate Edge Xavier

Overall

This is the classic setup for a letdown game. Xavier will have to show some maturity and put the big win over Tennessee behind them, and make sure they bring the same intensity against Morehead State. The Musketeers match-up well with the Eagles. Stainbrook should handle their slower, stiffer bigs, and Philmore, Stenger, Farr and Reynolds could be match-up problems. Justin Martin could give X a size advantage if he comes to play on the boards, but if not they shouldn't really give anything up against Morehead's three-guard lineup when they bring in Myles Davis to play the three, which has made their offense much tougher to guard so far this year. Morehead scored 107 in the season-opener and 71 against East Tennessee State, but they can't really shoot. They'll jack a lot of threes, but they aren't a good shooting team. They scored 40 points off of 27 turnovers by Mid-Continent in that game, and they also got 30 second-chance points. If Xavier takes care of the ball, keeps them out of transition and off of the offensive glass, then they should have no trouble pulling out the win.

Score Prediction: Xavier 79 Morehead St 64


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