Xavier (4-1) vs. Drake (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 25, 1:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Anaheim Convention Center Arena (9,000) -- Anaheim, California. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Xavier 3-0, Drake 1-0. Away Record: Xavier 0-0, Drake 0-1. Neutral Record: Xavier 1-1, Drake 1-1. Conference Record: Xavier 0-0, Drake 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Drake Bulldogs and Xavier Musketeers will try to leave the DirecTV Classic on a positive note as they square off in the fifth-place game at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Xavier came into the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record that consisted of wins over Fairleigh Dickinson (117-75), Butler (62-47) and Robert Morris (61-59). However, Chris Mack's squad was handed a surprising loss by Pacific in the first round of the tourney due to a poor defensive effort. The Musketeers recovered the following day by fending off the Drexel Dragons for a four-point win. Xavier will now try to improve its 4-1 record before its tough upcoming road game at Purdue.
The Bulldogs improved to 2-2 after it pushed past the Rice Owls to a 77-66 win in the consolation round on Friday. With the help of impressive three-point shooting in the opening half (6-of-14), Drake took a 34-30 lead into intermission. Rice jumped back in front in the second half, but the Bulldogs produced a 22-8 run to win by double-digits Coach Mark Phelps was not happy his squad was beat on the glass 40-26 in its first round game versus California, but Drake held a 36-28 advantage in the rebounding battle with the Owls. The win ended a two-game losing slide for the Missouri Valley Conference program.
This will be the first meeting between these teams in history.
With the exception of its season opening rout of FDU, Xavier is scoring an average of only 64.8 ppg. However, its defensive effort has been able to limit its opponents to 60.3 ppg during that span. Coach Mack's team that was nationally ranked at this time last year relied on its star backcourt of Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons on offense. This season is different as Xavier is exhibiting a balanced attack with five double-digit scorers. Dee Davis is averaging a team-best 14.2 points per game and is also dishing out 4.8 assists per outing while Travis Taylor, Jeff Robinson and Justin Martin are all scoring more than 10 ppg each. The Musketeers may be heading back towards last season's star-reliant system as freshman guard Semaj Christon is on the rise. He is second on the team in scoring (13.8 ppg) and first in assists (6.5 apg) after scoring a career-high 23 points to go with a game-high six assists versus Drexel.
Not to be outdone by its opponent, Drake had five players score in double- figures in Friday's win over Rice. The team had a strong offensive performance as it knocked down 46.2 percent of its field goal attempts and 11-of-25 from beyond the arc while turning the ball over only eight times. The team was able to outrebound the Owls thanks in large part to Jordan Clarke, who produced a double-double with 15 points and tournament record 18 rebounds. Ben Simons connected on 4-of-9 attempts from long distance to score a team-high 18 points in the win while Chris Hines, Seth VanDeest and Gary Ricks Jr. all reached double figures as well. Simons is leading the team with 16.8 ppg. Richard Carter will try look to bounce back after being held under 10 points for the first time this season in the triumph over Rice.
Both these squads have performed well in the early season. Xavier will be tough to beat if Christon rides the momentum from his last outing into this one. Although the Bulldogs have shown the ability to score, the Musketeers are better defensively than their previous opposition.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Xavier 71, Drake 66
11/25 10:34:02 ET