The Matchups: Xavier vs St. John’s

Before every game, MusketeerReport breaks down the position-by-position matchups for X's opponent. This edition focuses on the Musketeers’ Monday night tipoff against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.

Remy Abell JR (6-4, 194) vs Rysheed Jordan SO (6-4, 185)

Jordan is an athletic lead guard that plays aggressively on the offensive end. He was 3-of-8 from the field with eight points, two assists, three turnovers and two steals in the Red Storm's win over the Musketeers at the Cintas Center on Valentine's day. Jordan ranks second on the team in scoring with an average of 13.6 points per game to go with 3.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 30.1 minutes of action. He finished with 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting, including 2-of-6 from 3-point range, with six rebounds, six assists and one turnover in Saturday's win over Seton Hall. Abell held Jordan in check in that first matchup by cutting off his penetration and not allowing him to reject ball screens, but the sophomore did bury a pair of threes (2-5 3PT) in that game. He's shooting 35.6 percent on the year from distance, so the Musketeers will have to find him on the perimeter if they go zone. Abell had six points on 2-of-7 shooting and two turnovers in the first game against St. John's. He hasn't scored in double figures since he poured in 16 in the overtime loss to Creighton.

Slight Edge St. John’s

Dee Davis SR (6-0, 170) vs D’Angelo Harrison SR (6-4, 202)

Harrison is a tough, physical guard that is a volume shooter with great range. He had 18 points on 5-of-12 shooting (1-4 3PT) from the field to go five rebounds, three assists, a block, a steal and two turnovers in 37 minutes of action while playing through some type of calf injury suffered in the final minutes of the first half in the first game against Xavier. He's St. John's leading scorer at 18.3 points per game to go with 5.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He's shooting 37.3 percent from 3-point range on the year. On Saturday, he had 12 points (4-9 FG, 3-6 3PT), six rebounds, three assists and three turnovers. Davis has held his own pretty well against Harrison in the past. He gives up a lot of size and strength, but typically keeps St. John's top scorer in front of him and makes him work for his points. Davis was rewarded for his big night in the Crosstown Shootout by getting a break against Butler. He only played 23 minutes against the Bulldogs but scored six points while going 2-for-4 from the floor, including 1-for-2 from 3-point range. The biggest question right now surrounding X's senior point guard is whether or not he's officially broken out of his season-long shooting slump from the outside.

Moderate Edge St. John’s

Myles Davis SO (6-2, 195) vs Phil Greene IV SR (6-2, 187)

Greene is a scoring guard with a smooth game. He had 15 points and was 6-of-14 from the field, including 3-of-8 from 3-point range, in the first game against Xavier. The senior is a confident shot maker that isn't shy about seeking out his shot. He got up 13 field goal attempts in the Red Storm's win over Seton Hall on Saturday, finishing with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-8 from distance, to go with four assists, a steal and two turnovers. The Musketeers left him open for too many good looks on the perimeter in that first meeting, and will have to do a better job if they want to change the outcome this time around. Green is averaging 13.1 points per game while shooting 37.5 percent from distance. Davis just exacted revenge on Saturday against Butler, making up for his scoreless performance at Hinkle with an 18-point effort against the Bulldogs Saturday at the Cintas Center. Now he'll try and do the same thing to the Johnnies. The last matchup against St. John's is the only game in the last 12 that he hasn't scored in double figures, finishing with seven points on 3-of-8 shooting, including 1-of-3 from 3-point range.

Even

Trevon Bluiett FR (6-6, 215) vs Sir'Dominic Pointer SR (6-6, 192)

Pointer is an ultra-athletic forward with great length that is a playmaker in transition and a great finisher. He showed off that ability in the first meeting against the Musketeers when he went for 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting and 6-of-6 at the free-throw line. He also had five rebounds, four steals and two blocks on the defensive end. He went for another double-double Saturday with 22 points (8-12 FG), 10 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals against Seton Hall. He's averaging 13.4 points per game and a team-leading 7.5 rebounds. The Musketeers don't have a good matchup for him, but they can't give him as many easy baskets as they did last time. Bluiett is still the leading scorer on Xavier's roster at 12.1 points per game, but the Musketeers have done a good job recently of supporting him and letting him be a freshman. He struggled in the Cincinnati game and only finished with two points in 12 minutes, though those two points happened to win the game. Then he turned around and had a solid 11-point effort in 26 minutes on Saturday against Butler while Myles Davis carried the offense. He was 5-of-8 from the floor, 1-of-2 from three, grabbed three rebounds, dished out two assists and didn't have a turnover against the Bulldogs.

Slight Edge St. John’s

Matt Stainbrook SR (6-10, 270) vs Chris Obkepa JR (6-9, 230)

Obekpa is an elite shot blocker and a good rebounder that gives St. John's some legitimate size and post play in an otherwise small lineup. He was limited but effective in the first game against the Musketeers, coming off the bench to play 22 minutes. He didn't score and only had five rebounds, but his presence on the defensive end was enormous as he blocked three shots and altered several more while providing the Johnnies with just enough size to handle Xavier inside. Obekpa seems to be closer to full strength after dealing with that ankle sprain the last time these teams met up. He played 27 minutes and had six points, nine rebounds and three blocks against Seton Hall on Saturday. Stainbrook was really effective in that first game against St. John's when was X was able to get the ball inside to him. He was 7-of-9 from the floor with 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists. The Johnnies don't have anyone heavy enough to hold their ground against the big man, but they did a great job of fronting him with Pointer in the second half and using Obekpa as weak side helper. Xavier will have to be creative with finding ways to feed the post in this one. Hitting a few outside shots to loosen up the defense wouldn't hurt.

Slight Edge Xavier

Xavier Bench vs St. John’s Bench

When they're at full strength, the Johnnies essentially only play six guys significant minutes. Junior guard Jamal Branch (6-3, 169) is the sixth man at 21.8 points per game. He's averaging 4.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 34.6 percent from deep on limited attempts. Junior guard Felix Balamou (6-4, 192) will likely play a few minutes. He saw 10 in the last game against X, missed his only shot attempt, and had a turnover. Freshman big man Amar Alibegovic (6-9, 230) should also see a few minutes to spell Obekpa. He had two points, five rebounds, two steals and an assist in 13 minutes last game against X. Jalen Reynolds hasn't been spectacular over the last three games, but he's been really solid for the Musketeers, which is exactly what they need out of him. He scored nine points and had 11 boards in 23 minutes on Saturday against Butler. He's now the team's fourth-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game. James Farr was the biggest surprise in the Butler game, as he came off the bench to score eight points on 4-of-6 shooting and grab 11 boards in just 11 minutes. If the Musketeers can get any where near that type of efficient production from Farr, he'll become a very key piece to this team down the stretch. JP Macura also provided a nice boost off the bench against the Bulldogs. He had eight points on 2-of-4 shooting from 3-point range, and also played solid defense with two nice blocks.

Moderate Edge Xavier

Overall

A lot of this game depends on which St. John's team shows up. The Johnnies are a difficult matchup for the Musketeers when they're locked in on defense and pushing the ball in transition on offense. But, they don't always play like they did when they visited the Cintas Center. Some of that is because of Xavier's deficiencies, and some of it is because they're an inconsistent team. Stopping the ball and rebounding on the defensive end will be two of the biggest keys to a Xavier win, but the Musketeers also need to hit shots. Defensively, playing the zone can be hard against St. John's because they have multiple guys who can hit the three, in particular Greene, Jordan and Harrison. It also seemed to make it tougher for Xavier to stop the ball in transition for whatever reason when they went zone in the first half last time. The Johnnies pushed the ball every time they grabbed a defensive rebound, and tried to get into the lane before Xavier was ever really set up on the other end. It will be interesting to see how the staff decides to defend them this time around. Xavier ran great offense and fed the ball inside early and often in the first half of the last meeting between these teams. Expect St. John's to front the post from the start and play Obekpa more like they did in the second half of that game.

Score prediction: St. John’s 80 Xavier 77


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