USC (4-3) vs. Xavier (5-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 1 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Imperial Arena (3,900) -- Paradise Island, Bahamas. Television: AXS. Home Record: USC 4-0, Xavier 5-0. Away Record: USC 0-1, Xavier 0-0. Neutral Record: USC 0-2, Xavier 0-2. Conference Record: USC 0-0, Xavier 0-0. Series Record: Xavier leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: One of two teams will be leaving Paradise Island winless on Saturday, as the USC Trojans and the Xavier Musketeers compete in the final round of the Battle 4 Atlantis at Imperial Arena.
USC, which had won four straight home games at the Galen Center before heading to the Bahamas, bowed to Villanova on Thanksgiving (93-79) and then fell to Wake Forest on Friday, 77-63, marking the team's third loss of the campaign.
Meanwhile, the Musketeers are in the same boat with a pair of defeats on the island after opening 2013-14 with five straight wins, albeit against questionable competition. The team followed up a blowout victory over Abilene Christian at home on Monday with a 77-74 overtime loss to nationally-ranked Iowa on Thursday, and a 64-49 setback to Tennessee yesterday.
The loss to the Volunteers, one in which Xavier scored a season-low in points, was in response to a four-point win over Tennessee earlier in the campaign.
Xavier won the only previous meeting between the teams back in 1978 as part of the Vol Classic, a 75-68 triumph over a USC program that was ranked 12th in the nation at the time.
The Trojans made just one of their 13 attempts from 3-point range in the first half against Wake Forest on Friday, finishing the meeting 5-of-25 on the perimeter and 39.3 percent from the floor overall. It also didn't help that USC, which turned the ball over 14 times, shot just 10-of-19 at the free-throw line either. Byron Wesley posted 12 points, followed by Pe'Shon Howard and Roschon Prince with 10 points apiece. Julian Jacobs, responsible for only four points, handed out nine assists.
The only two players to start every game for USC just happen to be the most productive, as Wesley accounts for 18.0 ppg and 8.1 rpg, not to mention 20 assists, while Omar Oraby supplements his 11.1 ppg with 7.4 rpg and 22 of the unit's 32 blocked shots. However, Wesley is shooting only 3-of-16 (.188) beyond the arc at the moment and that has brought the entire unit down to just 29.2 percent.
It was time for payback for the Volunteers on Friday as they rumbled past Xavier, limiting the Musketeers to just 29 rebounds and watching the team convert only 3-of-10 shots at the free-throw line. Matt Stainbrook was the lone double-digit scorer for Xavier as he dropped in 10 points, adding five rebounds, for a team that generated almost as many points off the bench (23) as the starters (26) managed to log. One of those starters, Dee Davis, was held scoreless as he missed all seven of his field goal chances.
Held to only four points by Tennessee, Semaj Christon is still the top overall scorer for Xavier with his 14.3 ppg, not to mention placing first on the unit with 28 assists. Stainbrook checks in with 10.3 ppg and is close to averaging a double-double with his team-best 8.1 rpg as the Musketeers maintain a rebounding advantage of 8.2 per game on the average, even though that was far from the case on Friday.
A humiliated Xavier team has to be anxious to get back on the floor today to show that Friday's awful offensive performance was an exception to the rule. Expect the defense to be at the forefront for the Musketeers as they take down the Trojans.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Xavier 67, USC 60
11/30 10:37:44 ET