The season is young, but Friday night, Xavier’s men’s basketball team will have a graduate test with postseason implications when the Indiana No. 12 visits the Cintas Center as part of the annual Gavitt Tipoff Games.
The Hoosiers (2-0) were selected to win the Big Ten Conference in the preseason media poll.
Indiana is led by All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year nominee Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Everything Indiana does and wants to do revolves around the 6-foot-9 forward.
If Xavier wants to win this game, the Musketeers have to work together and make life as difficult as possible for Jackson-Davis.
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But Xavier can’t get tunnel vision at the star either. Indiana has solid support figures with a sniper in Miller Kopp, a really good rebounder in Race Thompson, an experienced point guard in Xavier Johnson, and a freshman wing in Jalen Hood-Schifino, who will get his first taste of big college basketball in front of a sell-out crowd with standing room on the street.
The rebound will be massive. This is how sales are made. And Xavier can’t be beaten in a straight line by Indiana’s guards.
The big question for Xavier is the status of Colby Jones, who missed Tuesday’s win against Fairfield with a right ankle sprain sustained in Monday’s training session.
Xavier head coach Sean Miller said in his pre-game press conference on Thursday that they are hopeful and optimistic that Jones can play.
“His injury is serious enough and there is still enough unknown that he will not train today,” said Miller. “His ankle is getting better. I would take him out of the bad sprain category. He’s made tremendous progress.
“…Colby wants to play and as long as he’s not compromised I think we’re leaning in that direction. We’ll know a lot more tomorrow at the shootaround where we are a few hours before tip-off and now we really need to call. “
It’s also a question of whether Jones won’t be able to play well after the injury and feel comfortable and confident in his game.
This will be the first real test of the season for the Musketeers and the Hoosiers. Xavier needs his experience and tenacity to show himself.
More:Why Zach Freemantle’s triple-double on Tuesday wasn’t the most important thing for Xavier
- Tip: 6 p.m. on Friday at the Cintas Center
- TV/Radio: FS1 with play-by-play by Kevin Kugler and analysis by Jim Jackson. Byron Larkin and Joe Sunderman will be on WLWT-AM (700).
- Information about the series: Indiana leads the all-time series 8-1. Xavier’s only win of the series came during the last meeting when Sean Miller was with Xavier in 2007.
Xavier Musketeers (3-0)
Coaches: Sean Miller, Season 18 (425-156 overall)
Offense: 86.7 ppg
Defense: 67.3 ppg
Players (position, size, key stats)
KyKy Tandy (G, 6’2″, 6.0 pages)
Zach Freemantle (F, 6’9″, 15.7ppg)
Adam Kunkel (G, 6’4″, 11.0ppg)
Souley Boum (G, 6’3″, 13.7 pages)
Jack Nunge (F, 7’0″, 18.0ppg)
Indiana Hoosiers (2-0)
Coaches: Mike Woodson, second season (23-14 overall)
Offense: 94.5 ppg
Defense: 51.0 ppgPlanned lineup
Players (position, size, key stats)
Trayce Jackson-Davis (F, 6’9″, 18.0 ppg)
Miller Kopp (F, 6’7″, 10.0ppg)
Jalen Hood-Schifino (G, 6’6″, 7.5 ppg)
Xavier Johnson (G, 6’3″, 5.5 pages)
Race Thompson (F, 6’8″, 5.5 ppg)
to see players
Trayce Jackson Davis
According to KenPom.com, Jackson-Davis runs more than a quarter of Indiana’s offensive possessions in low block. If Xavier lets him have his way, it will be difficult to overcome.
Indiana’s Bigs are a massive part of the equation. The Hoosiers play through them and rely on them to dominate the glass. Nunge (and Freemantle) need to be ready for this fight in the suit. Xavier can’t be pushed around and hope to win this game.
key to the game
Indiana has been able to bully and push around the teams it has played so far this season. If Xavier isn’t up to the challenge of being the tougher team in every facet of play on Friday night, it could be a long night for the Musketeers.
KenPom: Xavier (38), Indiana (10)