Both teams got easy wins in their season openers and both will face much tougher competition when they play each other at the Cintas Center. Siena scored over 90 points in their win over American University. On the other hand, the Musketeers held Jacksonville to just 57 points on Tuesday night, so something has to give in this matchup?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the keys to this matchup?
In their opening game of the season, Xavier beat Jacksonville 76-57 where they forced 18 turnovers and held the Dolphins to an FG% of only 41.1. Senior forward Tyrique Jones had a double-double in the game, going for 17 points and 11 rebounds and was 7-8 from the floor. Jones dominated the game from the opening tipoff and will be a huge factor in Xavier’s ability to play like a top-20 team all season long.
Fellow forward Naji Marshall, who is a nationally player of the year candidate, also had 17 points and grabbed 7 boards, while guard Paul Scruggs added 12 points. Jason Carter, who was named as ESPN’s 9th ranked graduate transfer averaging 16.5 ppg and 6.7 RPG for Ohio last season, only scored 2 points in 12 minutes off the bench. Once Carter is fully healthy and in the rotation the Muskies will have one of the most potent and diverse offensive teams in the entire nation.
Jones and Marshall are a solid FW duo that can bang inside and score. Their play in the paint will be key in this game. They will be facing a guard-oriented team in Siena and if they can impose their will inside it will be a long game for the Saints. Siena is a guard-oriented team but the Musketeers have two veteran leaders to combat the Saint’s backcourt with Quentin Goodin and Scruggs. Newcomer Bryce Moore played a big role in Tuesday night’s win and Moore is a graduate student who will also add some veteran leadership to the Muskies in the backcourt.
Jalen Pickett is a solid 6th man off the bench for the Saints and after averaging 15.8 ppg last season he was the high scorer in the Saints’ opening game of this season, which was a 96-80 win over American. He went for 22 points while not having the best shooting game going, 7-16 from the floor. Three other starters went for double figures, led by Elijah Burns, who had 19 points and 9 rebounds.
Siena has four guards in the starting lineup, Burns being the lone frontcourt starter. Because of this, the Saints have to shoot the rock well and get good paint play from whoever is on the court. The big question here will be can they defend the paint against an imposing Xavier frontcourt?
Siena will have to force turnovers and keep the Musketeers from being able to easily get the ball down low to the Muskies’ superior inside players. Siena will also have to shoot the 3-ball at a high rate. I think Xavier will win this game by a bigger score than they did against Jacksonville because Siena has a more talented team that will force the Muskies to play at a much higher level.
Xavier 83 Siena 60