Pacific (1-2) vs. Xavier (3-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 22, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Anaheim Convention Center Arena (9,000) -- Anaheim, California. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Pacific 1-1, Xavier 3-0. Away Record: Pacific 0-1, Xavier 0-0. Neutral Record: Pacific 0-0, Xavier 0-0. Conference Record: Pacific 0-0, Xavier 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Pacific Tigers will try to hand the Xavier Musketeers their first loss of the season when the two collide for a Thanksgiving Day battle in the opening round of the DirectTV Classic in Anaheim.
The Tigers opened up the season with a 38-point rout of Division II Holy Names, but they have lost a couple of tough ones since then. Pacific went back and forth with Fresno State in its second outing of the season, but the Bulldogs pulled away late in the second half and held on for a five-point victory. The Tigers then returned home to host Oral Roberts only to suffer a 69-67 setback in a nail biter. Pacific showed it can be dangerous versus ORU by draining 10- of-19 from beyond the arc, but it also hurt itself with a poor 3-of-7 shooting performance at the charity stripe.
The Musketeers have been a fixture in the Atlantic 10 for some time now. The program has been one of the best mid-major programs in the regular and postseason, but it looked like that might change this season after it lost all five starters from its 2012 Sweet 16 squad. Chris Mack apparently was not up for a rebuilding season, as he has guided Xavier to three straight wins to start the season. Xavier opened the 2012-13 season in record-setting fashion, recording a 117-75 win over Fairleigh Dickinson. It then dominated Butler by 15 points before holding off Robert Morris to pick up a 61-59 victory last time out. The convincing win over Butler looks much more impressive after the Bulldogs' run to the championship game of the Maui Invitational.
This is the first bout between these schools on the hardwood. The winner will advance to play the victor of the matchup between Drexel and Saint Mary's.
Coach Bob Thompson is in his 25th and final season at Pacific. He has the most wins in school and Big West Conference history with 414 and has won the conference's Coach of the Year Award five times. His 2011-2012 squad finished the season on a four-game losing streak to end up with an 11-19 overall record. Pacific has been efficient on the offensive end this season with 68 ppg on 47.6 percent shooting from the field. Its opponents have managed just 57.7 ppg on a lower .406 shooting rate. Senior guard Lorenzo McCloud paces the team with 13.3 ppg, getting it done on a healthy 61.1 field goal success rate. Ross Rivera is adding 10 points and 4.3 board per game.
Coach Mack had a lot to replace with Kenny Frease, Mark Lyons, and Tu Holloway's departures from the squad that was nationally ranked at this time a year ago. Xavier is playing great on both ends, averaging 80.0 points a game on a red hot 59.1 percent shooting from the floor, while giving up only 60.3 ppg. Instead of the top heavy offensive system that relied on Holloway and Lyons almost exclusively, the Musketeers have a balanced attack with five different players scoring in double figures. Dee Davis is averaging a team- best 15.3 points and 6.7 assists per outing. Travis Taylor, Jeff Robinson, and Justin Martin are all producing more than 12 ppg after attempting 22 more fields goals each. The game-changer for the Musketeers is their senior sniper Chris Redford, who has drained 9-of-16 from distance to start the season.
Xavier nearly suffered its first loss last time out. Mack is one of the toughest coaches in the country. Expect his Musketeers to come out and make a statement versus Pacific.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Xavier 73, Pacific 63
11/22 10:32:25 ET