Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchups: Xavier vs USC

Before every game, Rick gives a position-by-position preview of what to expect from Xavier's opponent. This edition focuses on Friday afternoon's game against USC in the semifinals of the Advocare Invitational.

Edmond Sumner FR (6-6, 183) vs Jordan McLaughlin SO (6-1, 170)

Sumner struggled to score in the Musketeers win over Alabama. He finished 0-for-6 from the field, including 0-for-3 from three, with one point. He did dish out six assists and only turned the ball over once, though. McLaughlin is the Trojans' best player and one of the best lead guards in the country. He's averaging 19.2 points, 4.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game, while shooting 61.1 percent from the field, including hitting 11-of-21 from 3-point range. He had a season-low 15 points (6-10 FG, 1-3 3PT) with four assists and five turnovers in the win over Wichita State yesterday. He's a dynamic bucket-getter that can score at all three levels, and also create for his teammates. He's always looking to attack, so the Musketeers' first job in containing him will be to stop the ball in transition, where he excels. When he has the ball, USC will run a lot of high screens for him and let him do his thing from there. He's consistently able to knife through defenses thanks to his tight handle and burst. It should be fun to see two talented young guards go at it.

Moderate Edge USC

Myles Davis JR (6-2, 188) vs Julian Jacobs JR (6-4, 180)

Davis had six points (2-7 FG, 2-6 3PT) on two big 3-pointers yesterday. He also had six rebounds, two assists, a block, and two turnovers. Jacobs is an athletic lead guard with an impressive all-around game. He'll often run the point, and is the Trojans' best passer. He's averaging 10.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game. He's not much of an outside shooter (29.9% career), but he won't hesitate to pop an open look. He's 2-for-7 from 3-point range on the season. He had a season-low three points (1-5 FG) against Wichita State, but he dished out nine assists in the win. 

Even

Remy Abell SR (6-4, 197) vs Elijah Stewart SO (6-5, 180)

Abell had a forgettable performance against Alabama, finishing with one point, two rebounds and two steals, while going 0-for-5 from the field. Stewart is mostly a spot-up shooter, but he has the athleticism to play above the rim. He's averaging 12.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He's 9-for-24 from 3-point range (37.5%) on the year, with half of his shot attempts coming from beyond the arc. He scored 20 points against Monmouth on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. Against Wichita State, he had three points on 1-of-7 shooting, including 1-of-4 from the outside. 

Slight Edge USC

Trevon Bluiett SO (6-6, 208) vs Bennie Boatwright FR (6-10, 220)

Bluiett led the Musketeers with 15 points (5-10 FG, 2-5 3PT) in the win over Alabama. He also had five rebounds, two assists and two turnovers. Boatwright stepped up big yesterday with 22 points (7-13 FG, 5-9 3PT), five rebounds, and three steals in the win over Wichita State. He's averaging 12.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 37.5 percent (12-32) from 3-point range. He's a skilled and fluid big man that likes to spot up for threes, but he also has a nice first step and the ability to take a few dribbles and make a play on a defender who closes out poorly. 

Slight Edge Xavier

Jalen Reynolds JR (6-10, 238) vs Nikola Jovanovic JR (6-11, 230) 

Reynolds had 10 points (4-7 FG) and nine rebounds in 24 minutes against Alabama. Jovanovic is a traditional post player with legit size that also possesses good mobility and some face-up skills. He's averaging 11.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. He had 14 points (5-8 FG) and 11 boards against Wichita State. He's a decent passer, and is capable of driving his man to the rim off a few dribbles from the mid-range. He's not quite the athlete Reynolds is, but he brings a lot of similar things to the table. This should be a good match-up down low. 

Slight Edge Xavier

Xavier Bench vs USC Bench

Xavier got a major lift from JP Macura against Alabama, as he finished with 14 points (4-7 FG, 2-5 3PT), five boards, four assists, and a steal with no turnovers. James Farr added an efficient six points (3-4 FG), seven rebounds and three steals in 20 minutes. The Musketeers also got a small boost from Makinde London during a key stretch in the first half when he pinned an Alabama player's shot on the backboard on defense, and then sprinted back on offense to catch and score on a cut to the basket. He finished with six points (2-4 FG, 1-2 3PT) in 10 minutes. Larry Austin had two assists and no turnovers in 13 minutes. Sean O'Mara added four points in six minutes, and Kaiser Gates didn't score but had three rebounds in four minutes. For USC, junior wing Katin Reinhardt (6-6, 215) is a skilled shooter with good size. He's averaging 10.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per game. He's also 10-of-21 (47.6%) from 3-point range on the year. Freshman forward Chimezie Metu (6-11, 215) is averaging 4.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 16 minutes per game off the bench. He brings length and athleticism off the bench, giving the Trojans a greater presence when it comes to protecting the rims and competing on the glass. He also has some face-up skills. 

Moderate Edge Xavier

Overall

Jordan McLaughlin is going to be a difficult matchup for Xavier, but the Musketeers rarely get beat by one guy. USC has other talented players, but Xavier stacks up more favorably with them. On defense, the Trojans play a lot of man-to-man, but will mix in a 3/4 court trap before falling into a matchup 2-3 or 3-2 zone on occasion. They're pretty undisciplined when they play the zone and give up a lot of good looks as long as the offense doesn't get caught in a trap and turn it over. When playing man-to-man, they'll switch most ball screens, which could disrupt some of Xavier's offensive flow, but should also create some mismatches. On a neutral court with no real preparation and both teams having just played yesterday, this game is tough to predict. Both teams are talented, especially on the offensive end. If the Musketeers are the same team that showed up to Michigan, they should get a win here against a talented USC team that looks to be on the rise. 

Score prediction: Xavier 76 USC 72


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