Thursday, January 28, 2016

No. 7 Xavier looks to keep the momentum going at DePaul

For the No. 7 Xavier Musketeers, the train continues to run on time as a 75-68 road win at the Providence Friars on Jan. 26 put their discipline to the test.

Redshirt freshman Edmond Sumner tied a career-low one point and missed all nine field goal attempts with Providence phenom Kris Dunn as the primary assignment.

Xavier coach Chris Mack knows Sumner can put the performance behind him as he will be needed in Saturday's game at DePaul after missing the first meeting due to a head injury sustained at Villanova on Dec. 31.

"Edmond's been really good all season long and when you play against arguably the best point guard in the country in Dunn and like every freshman in the country, you go through games where you learn from things positively and negatively," Mack said in Thursday's BIG EAST teleconference. "I have no doubt that Edmund will be ready for DePaul on Saturday."

Even with Sumner playing, DePaul coach Dave Leitao knows the Musketeers have multiple players who can penetrate on offense and rebound on defense.

"It's just one more piece to a pretty complete puzzle Xavier has," Leitao said. 

"One of things that makes them so good at this point is the balance and Sumner, as a redshirt freshman has been one of the key cogs in their success. If we spend a limited number of time preparing only for him, then Trevon Bluiett can get us, along with [Jalen] Reynolds down low and [James] Farr."

Farr, who was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Jan. 25, leads the Musketeers in rebounding with 9.1 per game and ranks third in the conference in that category.

Mack believes the bigger role for Farr this season has helped him to grow into more of an impact player.

"Confidence, as they say is everything and as the season has moved along, James has continued to gain more by each game," Mack said. 

"Not only he knows that he belongs, but feels like he is the best player on the floor. James being able to play close to the basket has allowed him to play really well early in the season and make an impact in each game."

DePaul's achilles heel for most of the season has been its unforced errors on offense with 12.6 turnovers per game, which ties for second in the BIG EAST Conference.

Leitao knows the Blue Demons must avoid as many mistakes on offense as possible in order to have an opportunity to upset the Musketeers.

"Unforced turnovers, just like in a tennis match is something you look back upon and becomes one of the controllable items and we have not done a great job of giving ourselves a chance," Leitao said.

"When you play a top 10 team, whether at home or on the road, you have an expectation that you will give yourself a fighting chance to be there at the end and have quality possessions and give teams over the course of the game easy baskets."

Game Planner:

No. 7 Xavier at DePaul

Time: Saturday, 1 p.m. CT

TV: CBS Sports Network

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.