The Matchups: Xavier vs DePaul

Before every game MusketeerReport breaks down the position by position matchups for X's opponent. This edition focuses on Wednesday night's Big East game against DePaul at the Cintas Center.

Dee Davis Jr (6-1, 161) vs Billy Garret Fr (6-5, 194)

Garret is a big point guard that loves to get to the free-throw line, and he was able to do just that last time around against Xavier. He finished with 18 points on 4-of-13 shooting, plus 8-of-14 at the free-throw line. He benefitted from some of Xavier's second half turnovers last time that led to easy runouts for him, but he was also aggressive on the offensive end. After missing the next two games due to illness, Garrett returned to be the Blue Demons' most consistent scorer other than Brandon Young over the last four games. Dee Davis played well in the first half against DePaul last time around as the Musketeers built a big halftime lead. He was 3-for-3 from the field for the game with six points and six assists, but he also had four turnovers and didn't play his best ball down the stretch when DePaul was making a run to get back into the game. Davis is always a big key for the Musketeers, and he's been up and down lately. Against Butler he played really well, scoring nine points and dishing out nine assists with only one turnover, but against Marquette he was up-and-down with seven points (2-of-6 FG), seven assists and three turnovers while only playing 22 minutes due to foul trouble.

Slight Edge Xavier

Semaj Christon So (6-3, 190) vs R.J. Curington Fr (6-4, 205)

Curington is a talented freshman guard that has barely played most of the year, but has started to see significant minutes over the last five games, including starting in three of them. However, in the Blue Demons' loss to Providence on Saturday, he played five minutes in the first half and then never returned in the second half after getting the start, so it will be interesting to see what his role is on Wednesday night. He hasn't gotten enough opportunities to prove what he can do as a shooter, but he came in with a rep as a guard who can do damage from the outside. So far his best game came in a 22-point effort against Providence on February 1 when he canned 3-of-8 from beyond the arc. Christon is a complete match-up problem for DePaul as we saw last time around. If he's as unstoppable as he was last time against the Blue Demons then it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Xavier loses. He scored 27 points in that game on 9-of-12 shooting from the field and 9-of-11 from the free-throw line. Christon has scored in double-figures for 13 straight games, but Saturday's 10-point effort was the lowest he's had since the first Big East game of the season against St. John's when he also scored 10.

Significant Edge Xavier

Justin Martin Jr (6-6, 205) vs Brandon Young Sr (6-4, 192)

While there's been a lot going on inside the DePaul program this season, one constant for the Blue Demons has been the play of Young. A combo guard that does a little bit of everything for the team, he has currently been on a hot scoring streak, putting up 27 and 18 in his last two games against Villanova and Providence. He's also a really good passer, capable of making plays for his teammates. In the last game against Xavier, the Musketeers were able to hold him to just seven point son 3-of-6 shooting with two rebounds. If they're able to stifle the Blue Demons' top scoring threat like that again, it will go a long way towards a win. Martin nailed 3-of-5 threes and helped the Musketeers to a win with 18 points last time around against DePaul. He's also coming off a 20-point, seven rebound effort in 38 minutes in the Musketeers' last game against Marquette. Martin's scoring has been a nice asset for the team this season, but just as important as his point production is his focus on the defensive end and in taking care of the ball. He was part of the turnover problem last time against DePaul with three, and he struggled with that same issue in the loss to Marquette with four.

Slight Edge DePaul

Isaiah Philmore Sr (6-8, 237) vs Tommy Hamilton Fr (6-10, 284)

Hamilton is a unique big man with his combination of space-eater size and face-up skill, but in the first match-up with X he was a non-factor. He scored just two points and grabbed one rebound in six minutes, and spent most of his time on offense floating on the perimeter while he couldn't get the job done on the defensive end. Since that game the fewest minutes he's played is 23. He's coming off a four point, three rebound performance on 2-of-8 shooting against Providence. One thing to keep an eye on is that Hamilton is more than willing to let it fly from 3-point range. He's shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc on the year, but is currently in a bit of a slump, hitting just one of his last 10. Philmore scored 13 points and hauled in seven boards in the last game against DePaul, and that was with Cleveland Melvin on the floor. Philmore's strength inside and rebounding was a big reason the Musketeers dominated the paint in that game. This is just a good match-up for him, and it's even better without Melvin. He did turn the ball over four times in that last match-up, so taking care of the basketball will definitely be important for him.

Even

Matt Stainbrook Jr (6-10, 263) vs Sandy Marcius Sr (6-10, 255)

Marcius ended up playing 22 minutes off the bench in the last meeting to help combat some of Xavier's size on the inside. He responded well by providing some toughness on the glass and by changing shots on the defensive end. He made it a lot more difficult for X to finish at the rim when he was in the game. He's now starting for the Blue Demons and has responded well scoring 10 and 15 in his last two games against Villanova and Providence respectively. He also hauled down 13 boards between the two games. He is susceptible to getting in foul trouble because of his desire to block shots, and X was able to use that against him some last time. Stainbrook had just six points in the last meeting between these teams. He also only attempted six shots. He hauled in eight boards and dished out four assists as well, but wasn't aggressive in looking for his own scoring opportunities. Looking over the teams in the Big East that X has already played twice (Providence, Butler, and Marquette), Stainbrook's previous performance against a team doesn't seem to be a great indicator of how he'll play the second time. He played well in the Marquette game with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting and five boards, but he's been in a rut with turnovers. He's given the ball up nine times over the last two games, and he had four miscues last game against DePaul.

Moderate Edge Xavier

Xavier Bench vs DePaul Bench

DePaul isn't a very deep team talent-wise as we saw in the last match-up, but with the way things are going for Oliver Purnell's team right now, he doesn't seemed all that concerned with who he's putting in the game. In the Blue Demons' 23-point loss to DePaul on Saturday, he played 12 guys eight minutes or more. Charles McKinney, who was scoreless on Saturday, started last time against Xavier and scored nine points on 3-of-4 shooting while grabbing six boards in 19 minutes. Sophomore guard Durrell McDonald still seems to be the top reserve option off of the bench. He didn't do much in 28 minutes of action last time against X and is more known for his prowess on the defensive end, but he scored eight points and grabbed three boards in 26 minutes on Saturday against Providence. Junior Greg Sequele (6-9, 215) provides depth inside, and classmate Jamee Crocket (6-4, 207) is another wing that can shoot the three a little bit. One other guy that has really seen his role fluctuate on this DePaul team is backup forwad DeJuan Marrero. Marrero is an undersized toughness and energy guy that hasn't been able to break the rotation regularly because of his inability to score. Xavier's bench rotation has changed slightly since January 20 when these teams last played. Jalen Reynolds is quickly becoming not just the top forward off the bench, but one of the most productive bench players period. He's coming off a six-point, seven rebound performance in 14 minutes against Marquette, which would have go to go down as his best game as a Musketeer considering the two games where he scored 11 at the beginning of the year were against Abilene Christian and Morehead State. James Farr played 17 minutes against the Blue Demons last tme around, scoring four points on 1-of-6 shooting with five boards. Reyolds only played four and picked up two fouls. Without Melvin, it would seem this match-up is even better for those two guys, but it will be interesting to see how much action each of them sees.

Slight Edge Xavier

Overall

There's no reason to sugarcoat this. DePaul is a mess right now, and a loss here would be disastrous for Xavier. Even more than the last time the Musketeers faced the Blue Demons, they lack offensive firepower in a major way. As long as X plays with some energy and focus on the defensive end, it should be fine. The two biggest concerns have to be turnovers and defending the three. Those have been this team's biggest issues in conference play, and they're the only way this DePaul team can pull off a win at the Cintas Center. The Blue Demons thrive off of turnovers, and last time X coughed it up 21 times which led to 24 points for them. After leading at halftime by 18, the Muskies quit attacking the back end of DePaul's pressure defense and they played the score. They had no answer at all for Christon last time around, so look for him to be aggressive early and often. If the Musketeers can run up a big lead in the first half again, it likely won't be as difficult to put the Blue Demons away this time as they're now on an eight-game losing streak.

Score Prediction: Xavier 78 DePaul 65


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