Marquette (9-6) at Xavier (12-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 9, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cintas Center (10,250) -- Cincinnati, Ohio. Television: FS1. Home Record: Marquette 7-1, Xavier 10-0. Away Record: Marquette 1-3, Xavier 1-0. Neutral Record: Marquette 1-2, Xavier 1-3. Conference Record: Marquette 1-1, Xavier 2-0. Series Record: Marquette leads, 46-15.
GAME NOTES: The Xavier Musketeers will attempt to keep their lengthy winning streak alive on Thursday night, as they welcome the Marquette Golden Eagles to the Cintas Center for a Big East Conference showdown.
Marquette is off to a solid 9-6 start to the season, but while it has excelled on its home floor (7-1), it has not fared well on the road, winning just one of four away contests. After opening up Big East play with a 67-49 loss at Creighton on New Year's Eve, the Golden Eagles bounced back with a 66-56 home triumph over DePaul last Saturday.
Since losing three straight in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in late November, Xavier has ripped off seven victories in a row to improve to 12-3 overall. It moved to 2-0 in league play following Saturday's 79-68 win versus Butler. The Musketeers are now a perfect 10-0 at the Cintas Center this season.
Marquette leads the all-time series with Xavier, 46-15. These two teams last played in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, which Marquette won, 66-55.
Although the Golden Eagles trailed DePaul late in the second half, they managed to end the game on a 20-9 run to pull away for the 10-point victory. They shot 51.3 percent from the field on the afternoon, held DePaul to only 38.6 percent shooting and outscored it at the free-throw line, 23-2. Davante Davis finished with a career-best 28 points, doing so on 9-of-14 from the field and 10-of-11 from the foul line. Jamil Wilson tallied 14 points and seven rebounds, while Todd Mayo came off the bench to contribute 10 points.
On the season, Marquette boasts a moderate offense, shooting 45.3 percent from the field for 70.9 ppg, but the biggest reason for its success has been its outstanding defensive play, holding opponents to under 39 percent shooting and just 61.5 ppg. Gardner (13.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is the catalyst, shooting just shy of 56 percent from the field. Wilson (11.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg) is the only other play to net in double figures, although seven others put up at least 4.7 ppg.
Much like Marquette, Xavier came up big when it needed to in its most recent contest, as it outscored Butler in the final five and a half minutes, 13-3, to capture the 11-point win and remain unbeaten in league play. The team was efficient as usual, shooting 50.9 percent from the field, 83.3 percent from the foul line and winning the takeaway battle, 15-8. Semaj Christon was the spark plug with 20 points, eight assists and three steals. Matt Stainbrook contributed 17 points and seven boards, while Justin Martin and Dee Davis put up 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Musketeers have grown accustomed to well-rounded efforts this season, as they outshoot their opponents from the floor, 46.9 percent to 39.9 percent, for a +10.1 scoring margin while also living comfortably in the green in terms of rebounding margin (+6.3). Christon leads the way with 14.7 ppg and has more than twice as many assists (67) as turnovers (30). Stainbrook is a mainstay in the frontcourt with 11.4 ppg and 8.5 rpg, while Isaiah Philmore, Myles Davis, James Farr, Davis and Martin bring depth to the squad, with each scoring between 7.1 and 8.9 ppg.
On paper, these are two very evenly-matched teams, but with Xavier playing out of this world on its home court this season, it'll have the clear advantage to knock off Marquette and remain unbeaten in the Big East.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Xavier 70, Marquette 65
01/09 10:32:24 ET