Xavier (3-1) vs. Drexel (1-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Anaheim Convention Center Arena (9,000) -- Anaheim, California. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Xavier 3-0, Drexel 0-0. Away Record: Xavier 0-0, Drexel 0-0. Neutral Record: Xavier 0-1, Drexel 0-0. Conference Record: Xavier 0-0, Drexel 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Xavier Musketeers try to bounce back as they take on the Drexel Dragons in the second round of the DirectTV Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena.
This is the first meeting between these two schools in men's basketball, and the winner will advance to play either Drake and Rice in the next consolation- round matchup.
The Musketeers have 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 guided the team to wins in its first three outings of the season, but it was upset by Pacific in the opening round of this event thanks to a poor defensive effort. The Tigers used a 44-7 advantage in bench points and shot 56.9 percent from the field to hand the Musketeers their first loss of the season. Xavier's 3-0 start consisted of wins over Fairleigh Dickinson (117-75), Butler (62-47) and Robert Morris (61-59).
After posting an impressive 27 wins last season, Drexel has not found the same success early on in this campaign. The Dragons were unable to cope with injuries to significant components of their squad on Thursday which led to a 76-64 loss to Saint Mary's-CA. Drexel refused to quit and went on a few runs to make it a close game in the second half, but it had no answer for the Gaels' Matthew Dellavedova, who went on to net 32 points. All of the Dragons' previous games were close with all decided by four points or less, and two needing overtime to declare a victor. Their only win came over local rival Penn in a thriller at The Palestra.
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 last year. Not counting its season-opening rout of FDU, Xavier is scoring only 63.3 ppg, but it has held its opponents to only 58.6 ppg during that span. The Musketeers have a balanced attack with five different players scoring in double figures. Dee Davis is averaging a team-best 15.0 points and 5.3 assists per outing. Travis Taylor, Jeff Robinson and Justin Martin are all producing more than 11 ppg after attempting 28 more fields goals each.
Defense was the key to Drexel's success last season, but has been the cause of their struggles this so far year. The Dragons are allowing 71.8 ppg after holding teams to just 56.1 ppg last season. Drexel went into its first-round game of this event with decent rebounding numbers, but it was dominated by a 32-20 margin on the glass. The team clearly missed leading scorer Chris Fouch (16.7 ppg), who is currently sidelined after undergoing ankle surgery earlier in the week. Point guard Frantz Massenat tried his best to put the team on his back by scoring 17 points, but he went just 6-of-15 from the floor. Tavon Allen was second on the squad with 16 points and Dartaye Ruffin added 12. Drexel only used a seven-man rotation in Thursday's loss, which could lead to noticeable fatigue when playing on consecutive days.
Drexel is going to have trouble tallying wins without Fouch and reigning CAA Freshman of the Year Damion Lee. The Musketeers will bounce back after Pacific gave them a wake up call in the first round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Xavier 70, Drexel 66
11/23 10:37:33 ET