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Men’s Basketball Preview: We’re Talkin’ #25 Xavier

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It’s time for a change of scenery and a step up in competition.

Connor Ferguson, Cyclone Fanatic

Last Time Out

The Iowa State offense showed up! After an opening three games won on grit and hustle, Iowa State exploded for 82 points and shooting 13-25 from 3 point range to easily put away Grambling State. Aljaz Kunc had his best game as a Cyclone shooting 5-5 from outside to lead the way with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Tristan Enaruna also had his first breakout with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Despite getting minimal production from Izaiah Brockington and Gabe Kaulscher, the new-look Cyclones showed they have more depth than we thought. How about a special shout out to George Conditt for a Dennis Rodman-esque 0 points and 10 rebounds?

About Xavier

Now we head Brooklyn for the first “big” test of the season at the NIT Season Tip-Off. These next two games against power competition will tell us a ton about what this team is made of, and give us a sense of how they may compete in the meat grinder that is the Big 12. The Musketeers are a pretty confounding team. They’ve already had 3 leading scorers in the first 4 games. After a close opening win over Niagara, they’ve really taken off and already have a win over a formerly ranked Ohio State team. They’re all around good at everything, ranking in the top 35 in both offense and defense on Kenpom. They also have about 7 players that can easily carry the team on a given night. One thing to note is the average defense they’ve played so far is ranked 244th. Hopefully an Iowa State defense that has played above expectation can give them some fits.

Opponent Player to Watch

Paul Scruggs has been at Xavier about as long as Jordan Bohannon has been at Iowa. He’s been an all Big East performer in the past and was on the 1st team preseason team this year. The 5th year senior came back this year and has upped his scoring to nearly 16 points per game with 5.5 rebounds and his 4 assists per game also lead the team. He’ll be the primary shot creator. Also keep an eye on Adam Kunkel. He was one of the better players in the Ohio Valley at Belmont in 2019. Against Norfolk State on Sunday, he scored 26 points off the bench shooting 8-10 from 3. Jack Nunge is a not-so-familiar face from the university out East that also comes off the bench.

Pick Three

  1. Tyrese Hunter leads the team in scoring and assists
  2. George Conditt has double digit rebounds
  3. Iowa State shoots under 30% from 3

What Will Happen

This is going to be an excellent test for Coach Otz’s Cyclones. The step up in competition will catch Iowa State by surprise in the first half. Tyrese Hunter has a national stage breakout. Iowa State’s offense comes back to earth a bit. The defense will still be there, and this will be no blowout. The Clones keep it around 10 points for most of the 2nd half before a late run makes it close. Xavier makes enough free throws to pull away but we don’t feel discouraged.

Iowa State - 63

Xavier - 70

Game Notes

The Matchup: Iowa State (4-0, 0-0 Big 12) vs. #25 Xavier (4-0, 0-0 Big East)

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

When: Wednesday, November 24th 6:00pm

Spread: Xavier -8 | O/U 136.5

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/Varsity Radio App Talent: Chris Williams (PxP), Scott Christopherson (Analyst)

TV: ESPNU Talent: Rich Hollenberg (PxP), Fran Fraschilla (Analyst)

Live Stats: Cyclonestats.com