No. 8 Xavier would like to wrap up its non-conference schedule without any more close calls after rallying from a huge deficit and narrowly escaping with a win over East Tennessee State last time out. The Musketeers have two games remaining before kicking off their Big East schedule, and will look to put forth a better effort Tuesday night against visiting Marshall.
Xavier didn’t look at all like a top-10 team for most of its encounter with the plucky Buccaneers, who led by as many as 22 points with 14:24 remaining in the second half before watching the Musketeers storm back, overcoming their worst shooting performance of the season. Trevon Bluiett was the hero yet again, missing 11 straight shots at one point before knocking down the go-ahead shot with 6.3 seconds remaining in the game. Now that they have their biggest home comeback in 18 years under their belt, the Musketeers have their sights set on finishing off their non-conference slate a little more comfortably, beginning with a win over the Thundering Herd. Marshall has reeled off four straight victories but has just one win in four tries on the road.
TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT MARSHALL (8-3): The Thundering Herd are one of only 10 Division I teams averaging in excess of 90 points per game - and they really don’t spread that scoring around. Jon Elmore leads all of Conference USA in scoring at 24.3 points per game while teammates C.J. Burks (19.6) and Ajdin Penava (19.1) rank third and fourth, respectively; they’re the highest scoring trio in the nation at 63 points per game. Elmore contributes a conference-high 7.5 assists and shoots 82.6 percent from the free-throw line, while Penava chips in a C-USA-leading 9.9 boards and also leads the conference in field-goal percentage (65.2).
ABOUT XAVIER (10-1): Bluiett’s 21.4 points-per-game average ranks him third in the Big East, and he’s still shooting better than 50 percent from the field for the season despite a 7-for-22 performance against East Tennessee State. J.P. Macura adds 11.4 points per contest but is coming off his worst showing of the season, missing all eight of his field goal attempts while settling for one point in 21 ineffective minutes against the Buccaneers. Kaiser Gates (9.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) also struggled with a 2-for-7 showing against East Tennessee State; all three players come into this one shooting at least 80 percent from the foul line.
1. Xavier ranks 10th in the nation in team free-throw percentage (79.0).
2. Bluiett has knocked down three or more 3-pointers in each of his last four games.
3. Marshall has allowed foes to shoot 41.3 percent from beyond the arc - the eighth-worst mark in the country.
PREDICTION: Xavier 96, Marshall 80