Source: USA Today

The Xavier Musketeers gutted out a sometimes painful to watch overtime victory on Tuesday night over the Missouri Tigers. The Musketeers offense has not started to click as of yet but on the defensive side of the ball, the Muskies are one of the best in the nation. Missouri State has started the year off 2-1 and this will be their first road game of the season. This game could be ugly, just like Tuesday night’s Xavier win because Missouri State is a tough defensive team also.

Let’s compare these two teams as they head into tonight’s matchup.

Missouri State

Missouri State’s most underrated player is senior forward and Grad transfer Lamont West, who has been solid so far. West spent four years with West Virginia before deciding to transfer to Missouri State during the offseason and it appears that the decision has paid off. He is currently averaging 10 points per game while shooting 47.8% from the floor and 37.5% from downtown. Leading the Bears offensively is senior guard Keandre Cook who has played great this season. He is currently averaging a team-high 19.3 points per game, along with 5.7 rebounds. He is also efficient, shooting 56.3% from the floor and 52.9% from the three-point line. Both of these players will need career games if they hope to beat the Musketeers at Cintas Center.

In Missouri State’s win over Cleveland State on Tuesday night the Missouri State defense was amazing. It only allowed 53 points while forcing the opposition to shoot just 31.6% from the floor and just 18.2% from the three-point line. But remember, that was Cleveland State, the Bears were playing not Xavier, but then again Xavier has not been great on the offensive side of the ball.

Xavier

The Musketeers have won each of their first three games with two of those wins coming by at least 18 points. However, Xavier struggled a bit in its last game as it needed overtime to beat a strong Missouri team at home. In that game, Xavier’s defense was very strong holding Missouri to just 58 points on 33.3% shooting from the floor. Xavier’s defense has been the main reason why it is still undefeated this season, allowing 59.3 points per game. Now, it will look to carry the team to its fourth home victory of the season on Friday night.

Leading scorer Naji Marshall is currently averaging a team-high 18 points per game, along with 7.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists. However, he has been inefficient, shooting just 38.6% from the floor and 17.6% from the three-point line. Ar some point you have to expect Marshall to break out, could this be that game?

Prediction

Xavier is the deeper, better team in this matchup, and while the Bears defense has been very good so far this season, the competition they have played hasn’t been. The Bears lost at home to Arkansas Little Rock and this Musketeers team is a top-20 team for a reason. Look for the Musketeers to play strong defense and slowly pull away in this game.

Xavier 72  Missouri State 55