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The Matchups: Xavier vs Wright State

Before every Xavier game, Rick provides a position-by-position preview of what to expect. This edition looks at Tuesday night's home game against Wright State.

Edmond Sumner FR (6-6, 183) vs Joe Thomasson SR (6-4, 165)

Sumner is Xavier's second-leading scorer at 11.5 points per game to go with a team-high 3.1 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 25.1 minutes of action. He's shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 41.2 percent (7-17) from beyond the arc. In addition to scoring 12 points in the Musketeers' win over Western Kentucky on Saturday night, he also dished out five assists with no turnovers . Thomasson is a lanky guard with good size that is capable of beating his man off the dribble or knocking down a spot-up jumper. He's the Raiders second-leading scorer at 11.1 points per game to go with 5.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 30.9 minutes. He's shooting 41.7 percent from the field, including 9-for-23 (39.1%) from 3-point range. He's also a great defensive rebounder for a guard. He's struggled with turnovers and getting clean looks against guards that are more athletic than him, which Sumner most certainly is. He particularly had issues with decision-making against Georgia State's zone defense, so don't be surprised to see Xavier throw some 1-3-1 at him. This seems like the perfect match-up for Sumner as Thomasson has the same weaknesses as him, but isn't as big, athletic or skilled.

Moderate Edge Xavier

Myles Davis JR (6-2, 188) vs Grant Benzinger SO (6-3, 190)

Davis has scored in double figures in six of eight games this season, including a season-high 16 points against Western Kentucky. He hit 3-of-5 from 3-point range against the Hilltoppers, and also dished out six assists with only one turnover. Benzinger is a knock down shooter with a little bit of size. He's taken 43 of his 60 shot attempts from beyond the arc where he's hitting at a 44.2 percent clip. He's fourth on the team in scoring with an average of 10.4 points per game to go with 3.3 rebounds in 30.9 minutes. The Musketeers will have to make sure they're in his face on the catch, and also cognizant of the fact that he's a lefty on the rare occasion that he does drive. 

Moderate Edge Xavier

Remy Abell SR (6-4, 197) vs Mark Alstork SO (6-5, 190)

Abell ranks seventh on the team in scoring with an average of 6.9 points per game to go with 2.0 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 25.8 minutes. He's on a cold streak from the outside, having hit just one of seven attempts over the last five games. Alstork is a good athlete with a nice skill-set. He can handle it, shoot it from three, and he's also a really good defensive rebounder. He's averaging 10.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 23.4 minutes per game. His biggest issue is that he often makes ill-advised decisions on offense which lead to turnovers or horrible shot attempts. 

Slight Edge Xavier

Trevon Bluiett SO (6-6, 208) vs JT Yoho SR (6-6, 235)

Bluiett is coming off a career-high tying 21-point and 10-rebound performance against Western Kentucky, which placed him on the Big East Honor Roll for the third straight week. He leads X with an average of 15.1 points per game, and has scored in double figures in all eight games the Musketeers have played. Yoho is the Raiders' leading scorer at 11.4 points per game to go with 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Last year he averaged 15.6 points and 6.4 rebounds.  He's a unique player, with a wide frame and a diverse skill-set. He's comfortable in the post or playing with the ball in his hands on the perimeter. He can shoot it out to three, has great footwork in the post, and he's a good passer. He's also a strong defensive rebounder despite being undersized and nonathletic at the four. The Raiders will even slide him down to the five occasionally when they play small. He's been dealing with an ongoing knee injury and didn't play against D-III Albion last Tuesday, but he returned to score 15 points, grab seven rebounds and dish out four assists against Georgia State on Friday night. 

Moderate Edge Xavier

Jalen Reynolds JR (6-10, 238) vs Michael Karena SR (6-10, 270)

Reynolds hasn't played over 20 minutes since the Alabama game thanks to foul trouble and Xavier building big second half leads against USC, Dayton and Western Kentucky. He had 12 points (6-9 FG) and three rebounds in 16 minutes against WKU. Karena gives the Raiders some size, and he's more athletic than you'd ever imagine upon first glance. He's an average rebounder and below average defender. On offense, he has decent footwork in the post, but he lacks the touch to finish off any of his moves. He especially seems to struggle against longer post players. He's averaging 7.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 16.1 minutes per game. Both of his double-digit scoring performances came against Division III opponents. 

Significant Edge Xavier

Xavier Bench vs Wright State Bench

James Farr leads the team in rebounding with 8.5 boards in 19.5 minutes per game off the bench. He's also averaging 10.5 points after putting up a career-high 18 against Western Kentucky. JP Macura is averaging 10.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 21.5 minutes per game. He had a career-high five assists against WKU. Larry Austin struggled on Saturday, turning the ball over three times in 11 minutes without recording another stat. He's averaging 1.6 points in 12.4 minutes per game. Sean O'Mara had a solid game against Western Kentucky, as he hauled in six rebounds in eight minutes. He actually has the highest defensive rebounding rate on the team currently. For Wright State, Biggie Minnis (6-3, 200), a graduate transfer from Rhode Island, made his WSU debut against Albion and finished with 10 points (4-6 FG, 0-1 3PT), three assists, two steals and two rebounds in 21 minutes of action. He was shutout and only attempted one field goal with four turnovers in 24 minutes against Georgia State. He's a strong guard with a pretty good handle. Justin Mitchell (6-3, 185) is a quick and crafty sophomore guard that scores most of his points in transition. He's averaging 3.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 steals in 18 minutes per game. Freshman forward Daniel Mortensen (6-9, 230) is a pick-and-pop spot-up shooter from Denmark that just made his debut three games ago against George Mason after injuring his foot in the preseason. Since then, he's made a pair of threes on seven attempts while averaging 10.7 minutes per game. Alan Vest (6-3, 185) is a freshman guard from Chaminade Julienne that is averaging 2.3 points in 15.0 minutes per game. He's 4-of-9 from 3-point range on the year. Parker Ernsthausen (6-9, 225) is a redshirt freshman forward that is averaging 2.4 points and 1.8 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game. 

Significant Edge Xavier

Overall

Wright State has had major difficulties scoring against Division I defenses. The Raiders' 3-5 record includes two wins over Division III opponents in Mount St. Joseph and Albion, and just one over a Division I foe, South Dakota. They're coming off a 59-46 loss to Georgia State where they had 17 turnovers and only 16 made field goals. For the season, they're averaging 0.87 points per possession, and rank 294th in offensive efficiency. The one thing they can do is shoot from 3-point range. Benzinger, Alstork, Thomasson, Yoho and Mortensen can all shoot it from deep. Against Georgia State, the Raiders were 9-of-21 from beyond the arc. They're hitting at a 43.9 percent clip for the year, which ranks 10th in the nation. However, they are one of the worst 2-point shooting teams in the country at just 32.8 percent (350th). It would be almost impossible for Xavier not to be looking ahead to the Crosstown Shootout, so a sloppy performance combined with a hot shooting Wright State team could be a dangerous combination. But, if the Musketeers get any type of effort and production from their post players at all, then they should dominate the paint and make it very difficult for the Raiders to be legitimately thinking about an upset. On the defensive end, Wright State plays the Pack Line man-to-man defense most of the time. The Raiders' bigs hedge and recover, similar to Xavier's, but they're not very good at it. In fact, their defense isn't very good at keeping the ball out of the lane in general. They've also mixed in about 18 percent zone, switching between a 2-3 and a 1-3-1 halfcourt trap. They played a lot of zone last game against Georgia State. 

Score prediction: Xavier 88 Wright State 58


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