GAME NOTES: In Atlantic-10 Conference action, the Xavier Musketeers will host the Massachusetts Minutemen at the Cintas Center, Saturday afternoon.
Massachusetts is coming off a much needed 77-66 win over Dayton which ended a three-game slump for the Minutemen. After this meeting, UMass will head home to host Butler before heading to Rhode Island to close out regular-season play. The Minutemen have scored 75+ points in five of their last six outings.
Xavier most recently earned a 64-62 win over 19th-ranked Memphis, ending the Tigers' 18-game win streak in the process. It was the fourth win in the last six games for the Musketeers. This will be the third of a current four-game homestand. Of Xavier's final five games of the regular season, four will be played against top-25 ranked teams. The Musketeers are 1-1 thus far with a loss to then 24th-ranked VCU. After UMass, they will host 18th-ranked Saint Louis and then close out the regular season at 20th-ranked Butler.
While the Musketeers lead the all-time series 14-9, the Minutemen came out on top in the last meeting a season ago with an 80-73 win. The UMass victory ended a six-game winning streak for Xavier in the series. Xavier has had great success at home against conference opponents, going 52-2 at the Cintas Center in A-10 play since 2007.
Cady Lalanne recorded an impressive double-double in UMass' win over Dayton with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Terrell Vinson added 13 points and six rebounds, while Freddie Riley managed 12 points and Raphiael Putney tallied 10 before fouling out. The Minutemen earned their edge on the free-throw line where they went 17-of-19 and on the boards, outrebounding the Flyers, 36-27.
Chaz Williams has been impressive for the Minutemen this season, scoring 15.8 ppg with 7.6 apg. Vinson adds 12.2 ppg, while Lalanne is the squad's top rebounder, pulling down 7.1 rpg. UMass is a high-powered offense, averaging nearly 74.0 ppg with nearly 17 apg, but did lose a strong contributor in Jesse Morgan, who has been sidelined since mid-January with a knee injury.
In the win over Memphis, Travis Taylor posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Isaiah Philmore contributed 15 points and six rebounds, while Semaj Christon had 13 points and dished out five assists. Brad Redford managed 10 points in the victory. Although the squad shot below 40.0 percent from the field, it earned a 45-36 rebounding edge.
Just a freshman, Christon is the Musketeers' leading scorer this season with 15.0 ppg, while shooting over 45.0 percent from the field. Taylor adds 11.8 ppg on 55.5 percent shooting from the floor while leading the team in rebounding (8.7 rpg). While the two are the only Xavier players averaging in double-figure scoring, the Musketeers are more a defensive-minded team. They hold opponents to just 61.8 ppg and 40.5 percent shooting from the field. They also control the boards, holding a +5.1 rebounding margin.
In a matchup between a pair of balanced teams, it's anyone's game. The Musketeers need to be playing at their absolute best in the midst of this tough schedule and coming off the win over Memphis they should be able to take full advantage of this matchup at home, where they simply rarely lose in- conference.