Charlotte (13-15) at Xavier (18-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 2:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cintas Center (10,250) -- Cincinnati, Ohio. Television: CBSSN-Regional. Home Record: Charlotte 7-7, Xavier 12-3. Away Record: Charlotte 6-8, Xavier 5-7. Neutral Record: Charlotte 0-0, Xavier 1-1. Conference Record: Charlotte 5-10, Xavier 9-6. Series Record: Xavier leads, 10-2.
GAME NOTES: The Xavier Musketeers look to make one last push to improve their standing in the Atlantic-10 Conference, closing out the regular season at the Cintas Center against visiting Charlotte.
Xavier faltered down the stretch at Saint Louis Tuesday, dropping a 70-59 decision to settle at 9-6 in conference play. The loss leaves the Musketeers within a game of St. Bonaventure for third place in the A-10 standings but also within striking distance of a host of teams with the weekend's schedule hanging in the balance. Xavier raced out to an early lead and put the heat on the Billikens in the first half, shooting 51.9 percent from the floor over the opening 20 minutes to grab a 10-point lead at the half. However, the tables turned in the second half as the visitors struggled mightily with a meager 28.0-percent shooting clip and Saint Louis capitalized. Junior Mark Lyons led the Musketeers with 19 points and freshman Dezmine Wells recorded his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Charlotte continued its late-season struggles Wednesday with an 88-77 defeat at home to Duquesne. The 88 points was the most allowed by the 49ers' defense this seasons as the Dukes buried 59.3 percent of their field goals, including a 64.0-percent shooting clip in the second half to close things out. Charlotte made 44.6 percent of its attempts from the floor, and knocked down 11-of-25 from beyond the arc. DeMario Mayfield led a quartet of 49ers in double-figures with 19 points while Chris Braswell registered 17 points and 11 rebounds. Charlotte has lost four of its last five games, entering Saturday's season finale with a 5-10 league mark.
Xavier posted a 74-70 victory against Charlotte Jan. 28 at Halton Arena after splitting last year's season series with the 49ers. The Musketeers are a perfect 4-0 versus Charlotte at the Cintas Center and have only dropped two of the 12 all-time meetings. XU came up with a 68-48 win over Charlotte last March in closing out the regular season in Cincinnati.
The Musketeers' offense is driven by the duo of senior Tu Holloway and Lyons -- two of the conference's top performers at 16.4 and 15.9 points per game, respectively. Lyons also serves as the team's leading three-point shooter with 49 on 40.2 percent shooting while the versatile Holloway averages 5.6 assists per game to rank among the league leaders and 3.7 rebounds. Holloway was a virtual no-show in XU's loss to Saint Louis with just four points on 1-of-6 shooting in 36 minutes of floor time. Wells checks in with a solid 10.2 ppg and 5.2 rebounds per contest while shooting 52.3 percent from the floor. Senior Kenny Frease furthers the Musketeers' depth with a 9.0-point average and team-high 6.0 boards. Andre Walker kicks in 5.8 rpg, a point of superiority for Xavier which secures 37.1 caroms per game and holds a nice plus-2.7 margin on the glass. Xavier's offense averages 71.3 ppg overall and shoots 45.4 percent from the field. The defense is effective as well, giving up 67.7 ppg but on 39.8 percent shooting -- good for second in the A-10.
The 49ers rely on a trio of double-digit scorers to help prop up a mediocre offense. The junior Braswell leads the way at 15.1 ppg and also serves as the team's leading rebounder with 7.6 per contest. Javarris Barnett and Mayfield are also significant contributors, the former averaging 12.4 ppg and 5.7 boards while the latter checks in at 11.1 ppg and 7.0 rpg. Barnett also leads the club with 58 three-pointers on 42.3 percent shooting. Overall, the 49ers compile 67.2 ppg but on only 41.2 percent shooting. Opponents average 68.4 ppg and are allowed to shoot 42.2 percent from the floor. Charlotte trails the opposition in the rebounding department by a 36.7-to-35.9 differential despite the efforts of the aforementioned trio.
Xavier has struggled to find consistency down the stretch, splitting its last eight games, but should be able to handle the likes of Charlotte at home to provide some momentum heading into the A-10 Tournament.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Xavier 76, Charlotte 68
03/03 10:37:12 ET