Xavier (11-6) at Charlotte (15-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 23, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Halton Arena (9,105) -- Charlotte, North Carolina. Television: FSN-OH. Home Record: Xavier 7-2, Charlotte 9-1. Away Record: Xavier 2-2, Charlotte 3-2. Neutral Record: Xavier 2-2, Charlotte 3-0. Conference Record: Xavier 4-0, Charlotte 3-1. Series Record: Xavier leads, 11-2.
GAME NOTES: The Xavier Musketeers put their perfect conference record on the line on Wednesday, as they take on the Charlotte 49ers in Atlantic 10 Conference action at Halton Arena.
The Musketeers closed out the 2012 portion of their schedule with three straight losses and opened 2013 with a fourth consecutive setback. However, Chris Mack's squad has righted itself since A-10 play began, winning four games in a row, including last Saturday's 70-63 decision over La Salle to remain unbeaten in league play.
Alan Major's third season in Charlotte has gone very well thus far, as the 49ers are one of the bigger surprises on the national scale. The team has recorded a 15-3 record to this point and opened up league play with three straight wins, before getting routed at Richmond this past weekend, 81-61.
Xavier has dominated this series with wins in 11 of the 13 previous encounters. The Musketeers have won three straight meetings and are 4-2 in games played in Charlotte all-time.
The A-10's best shooting team was at it again last weekend against La Salle, converting a sizzling .578 from the floor in earning its fourth conference win in as many games. Xavier did turn the ball over 19 times, but forced 16 turnovers from the Explorers and outscored La Salle 40-30 in the paint. Semaj Christon continued his strong campaign, leading the Musketeers with 18 points and five assists. Brad Redford added 13 points to the effort, while Jeff Robinson finished with 10 points. Travis Taylor just missed a double-double, tallying nine points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
Xavier isn't an explosive offensive team by any stretch, but its 65.2 ppg comes efficiently, with the team shooting an A-10 best .475 from the field. Christon has made an immediate impact, as the 6-foot-3 freshman is shooting .489 from the field and leading Xavier in both scoring (14.7 ppg) and assists (5.1 apg). Taylor has provided a perfect complement with his interior play, averaging 11.2 ppg, while grabbing 8.0 rpg (fifth in A-10).
The 49ers were done in by the long-range acumen of the Spiders, who drained 12 3-pointers in a 20-point romp. Meanwhile, Charlotte was good on only 3-of-15 3-point attempts. Pierria Henry led three 49ers in double figures with 16 points in the loss. DeMario Mayfield added 11 points, while Chris Braswell just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Braswell leads the team in scoring at 11.5 ppg. Mayfield is a close second with 11.3 ppg, but there are no other double-digit averages at this time. Limited scoring depth comes in the form of Henry (9.2 ppg) and Willie Clayton (8.2 ppg), who happens to lead the team in rebounding (7.3 rpg). Charlotte isn't a flashy offensive squad, netting modest numbers of 68.7 ppg on .451 shooting. The team's strength has come at the defensive end, with foes averaging just 62.6 ppg on .372 shooting (10th nationally).
Xavier has shown itself a little vulnerable on the road, but Charlotte is coming off a poor performance and will need to turn things around in a hurry in an unforgiving A-10.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Xavier 66, Charlotte 63
01/23 10:35:15 ET