Just over a year ago, these teams battled it out on the floors of FedEx Forum. Memphis trailed by double digits with just over six minutes to go. But a late surge gave the Tigers a 72-68 win over Xavier.
Both squads went on to have successful seasons. Memphis lost only two more times en route to a second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Musketeers bounced back and finished the year with a loss in the Sweet 16. Fast forward a year and Memphis is riding an eighteen game winning streak while Xavier is struggling to stay alive in the Atlantic 10 Conference race.
Losing last season’s top five scorers has put the Musketeers in unfamiliar territory and made this team unrecognizable to Tigers’ fans. Tu Holloway, Kenny Frease and Andre Walker graduated. Dez Wells transferred to Maryland. Mark Lyons transferred to Arizona. Combine the departures with an influx of new talent, and Xavier now sits with an uncanny 15-11 (8-5) record.
Opponent: Xavier Bulldogs
Conference: Atlantic 10
Head Coach: Chris Mack
2011-12 Record: 23-13, Conference: 10-6
2012-13 Record: 15-11, Conference: 8-5
2012-13 RPI: 95
Kenpom: Ranked 111th in offensive efficiency, 86th in defensive
efficiency, 85th overall, Memphis win 66-65
- Tennessee: Xavier lost 51-47, Memphis won 85-80
- VCU: Xavier lost 75-71, Memphis lost 78-65
Road vs. Home:
- Memphis 7-0 vs. Xavier 9-3
Good wins for Xavier: Butler at home 62-47, Lasalle at home 70-63
Bad losses for Xavier: Wofford at home 56-55, Pacific neutral 70-67
- Memphis offense: averages 75ppg, 48.1 FG%, 68.8 FT%, 36.2 3pt%, 14 turnovers, +5 rebounding margin
- Xavier defense: opponents average 61ppg, 40.5 FG%, 69.9 FT%, 31 3pt%, 11 turnovers
- Xavier offense: 65ppg, 46.5 FG%, 66.1 FT%, 34.7 3pt%, 13 turnovers, +5 rebounding margin
- Memphis defense: opponents average 64ppg, 40 FG%, 69.1 FT%, 34.5 3pt%, 15 turnovers
- Semaj Christon – 6’3″ 190 Fr. G averaging 33.3mpg, 15.2ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.4apg, 17.4% 3pt
- Travis Taylor – 6’8″ 220 Sr. F averaging 31.4mpg, 11.8ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.3apg
- Dee Davis – 6′ 160 So. G averaging 29.8mpg, 8.7ppg, 1.7rpg, 3.5apg, 38.8% 3pt
- Justin Martin – 6’6″ 205 So. F averaging 26.9mpg, 8.4ppg, 4.9rpg, 0.8apg, 31.3% 3pt
- Jeff Robinson – 6’10″ 225 Sr. F averaging 24.4mpg, 7.2ppg, 4.9rpg, 0.4apg, 10.5% 3pt
- Brad Redford – 6’1″ 180 Sr. G averaging 22.2mpg, 7ppg, 1rpg, 0.6apg, 42.6% 3pt
- Isaiah Philmore – 6’8″ 240 Jr. F averaging 22.8mpg, 6.4ppg, 4.8rpg, 0.5apg, 8.3% 3pt
- Erik Stenger – 6’8″ 210 Jr. F averaging 9.6mpg, 1.8ppg, 2.3rpg
Injured and may not play:
Dee Davis – 6′ 160 So. G averaging 29.8mpg, 8.7ppg, 1.7rpg, 3.5apg, 38.8% 3pt. Davis sustained a head injury in the VCU this past Saturday. He may have a concussion which will keep him out of this game. If he can’t go then expect Redford to start in his place.
- The new-look Musketeers are now led by Cincinnati native Semaj Christon, an ultra-talented 6’3 freshman point guard. The diaper dandy leads the team in points (15.2), assists (4.4), steals (1.4) per game. But Christon isn’t without faults. He shoots an abysmal 17% from three-point range and averages 3.9 turnovers per contest.
- Travis Taylor is another name to watch for. The 6’8 big man leads Xavier in rebounds (8.6/gm) and is the second leading scorer (11.8/gm).
- Xavier plays at a much slower pace than Memphis, averaging about 10 less points per game. The Musketeers will likely look to make this a knock-down, drag-out game that is played in the half-court setting.
- Xavier plays mostly man-to-man on defense. But they do play some zone, so you can expect the Musketeers to switch it up on occasion. Memphis has proven that they can do quite well against zone defense this year, so it shouldn’t make a major difference either way.
Keys to the game:
- Xavier has a good 9-3 record at home this year. The Tigers will need a fast start to deter what will certainly be a raucous crowd.
- Keep it simple. Josh Pastner preaches that “the open man is the go to man.” Memphis needs to stick with this philosophy. Be patient, share the ball, take quality shots and don’t force passes. An overwhelming amount of turnovers could let the game get out of hand quickly.
- It may sound simple, but the Tigers have to put together an all-around defensive effort. Christon and fellow guard Dee Davis can both break down the defense with dribble penetration, leading to easy dishes in the paint or kick-outs to open shooters on the perimeter. Xavier isn’t a great three-point shooting team, but Brad Relford (.439% on 4.9 att/gm) is a sniper. He, along with a few others, could keep the Musketeers alive with a solid performance from beyond the arc.