The Matchups: Xavier vs UTEP

Before every game, MusketeerReport breaks down the position-by-position matchups for X's opponent. This edition focuses on the Musketeers’ second round game of the Wooden Legacy tournament in Anaheim on Friday afternoon against UTEP.

Dee Davis SR (6-0, 170) vs C.J. Cooper SR (6-0, 190)

Cooper is a 3-point shooter that is also a decent distributor. He’s 5-for-9 from beyond the arc on the year and has 15 assists but only four turnovers. He had 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting (all 3-pointers) with three assists and one turnover in the Miners’ first round win over Princeton Thursday afternoon. Davis had 7 points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field with two assists and four turnovers in the Musketeers’ win over San Diego.

Slight Edge Xavier

Remy Abell JR (6-4, 194) vs Julian Washburn SR (6-8, 210)

Washburn is a long and lanky wing that is a huge asset at both ends of the court. He has a good handle and is a decent shooter from 3-point range. He comes into the game averaging 9.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He finished with 8 points on 3-of-10 shooting, including 1-of-3 from 3-point range, with 5 assists, 1 rebound and 2 steals in the first round game of the Wooden Legacy tournament. Washburn is a tremendous defender that has been compared to Bruce Bowen by his coach. He may spend some time guarding Bluiett. Abell had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting with 2 rebounds and 2 assists in the win over San Diego.

Slight Edge UTEP

Trevon Bluiett FR (6-6, 215) vs Vince Hunter SO (6-8, 205)

Hunter, the C-USA freshman of the year last season, is UTEP’s leading scorer and rebounder at 18.3 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. He’s big, athletic versatile, and he has some skill. He’s not going to be attempting many threes (only two attempts so far through three games), but he’s a capable mid-range shooter and he can handle it a little bit. He scored 18 points, grabbed 12 boards, dished out three assists and swiped two steals in the Miners’ first round win over Princeton. The real interesting part of this match-up will come on the defensive end if Hunter is matched up on Bluiett, because he has the tools to be an elite defender. Bluiett is coming off a 17-point (6-10 FG, 2-4 3PT), 3 rebound performance on Thanksgiving.

Slight Edge Xavier

James Farr JR (6-10, 244) vs Cedrick Lang SR (6-10, 255)

Lang is a veteran forward with good size and toughness. He helps sets the tone for the Miners’ physical style of play as one of their leaders. He finished with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting to go with 10 rebounds, a block and a steal in Thursday’s win. They’ll often play a little smaller and slide Hunter down to this position and either take Lang out or slide him to the five. Farr had 5 points (2-7 FG, 1-3 3PT) with 10 points and 2 assists on Thursday.

Even

Matt Stainbrook SR (6-10, 270) vs Matt Willms SO (7-1, 230)

Willms is an agile 7-footer that can score with his back to the basket and protect the rim at the defensive end. He does lack some strength, though, which may make for an interesting battle with Stainbrook. Willms scored 4 points and only took three shots while grabbing 3 rebounds and blocking a shot in 21 minutes of action against Princeton. Tim Floyd is very high on him long term, but he hasn’t had that developmental break through just yet. Stainbrook had 14 points, 9 boards and 8 assists on Thursday.

Moderate Edge Xavier

Xavier Bench vs UTEP Bench

Freshman point guard Omega Harris is the only bench player that’s really produced so far. He’s pushing Cooper for his minutes, averaging 8.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 20.7 minutes of action. He’s quick and can make plays for himself or his teammates in the lane, plus he’s shot well in limited attempts from the perimeter. Junior 6-4 wing Earvin Morris sees 17 minutes a game and averages 5.3 points – he had 13 points in the season opener against Washington State and was 2-of-6 from 3-point range In 26 minutes of action, but has played less and been less involved from an offensive standpoint the last two games. Xavier got a huge lift out of J.P. Macura yesterday as he came off the bench to hit all four of his shots and score 11 points in a two minute period to help the Muskies pull away. Jalen Reynolds also produced on offense with 9 points (4-5 FG) despite some foul trouble. The Musketeers didn’t have Myles Davis on Thursday, but he should be back in action against UTEP according to Mack.

Moderate Edge Xavier

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Overall

This is Tim Floyd’s best team since arriving back at UTEP. They’re versatile, big, and physical, and they’re pretty good defensively. The rebounding battle will be key in this one, as UTEP specializes in controlling the boards with its size across the starting lineup. The Musketeers have had their way in the paint and on the glass for the most part recently against smaller opponents. It will be interesting to see how they respond against a team that is capable of pushing back in the lane. UTEP isn’t a team with many shooters, and they can get stagnant at times on offense. The Musketeers have to keep the Miners from getting easy buckets off of penetration, and then limit them to one shot once they miss. If X allows too many second-chance points or easy points in the paint in general, it will have a hard time making it past this UTEP team.

Score Prediction: Xavier 78 UTEP 73


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