The Owls will open up their Atlantic 10 conference slate at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, OH when they take on the struggling Xavier Musketeers tonight at 7pm.
Xavier, 7-6 on the season, has lost four straight games, including a mystifying 56-55 decision to Wofford. At home. Sure, Temple lost to Canisius at home but at least the Golden Griffs might actually be somewhat good. Wofford won’t be.
Semaj Christon, one of the leading candidates for A10 Rookie of the Year, leads the Musketeers in scoring (13.4 points per game), assists (4.8 dimes per game) and steals (1.5 thefts per game). The four-star recruit out of Brewster Academy looks like he will be a player who will eventually dominate the conference but he is still going through some of the growing pains that are associated with being thrust into the spotlight early on (3.8 turnovers per game, .154 shooting percentage from three-point land).
Travis Taylor has emerged as Xavier’s lone true post presence. He has more than doubled his playing time from a year ago (14.7 minutes per game in 2011-12 vs. 30.8 in 2012-13) and has responded with 11.8 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. While he is a legitimate threat, noted Xavier blog Banners on the Parkway wishes that Chris Mack’s charges would look to feed Taylor a little more:
Travis Taylor, you may have noticed, was the best offensive player on the floor for Xavier as the non-conference season wound down, but he had trouble getting consistent touches in the paint. Temple’s interior defenders aren’t pushovers, but the Muskies would be better served to start the game inside-out that the to try cracking Temple’s stalwart perimeter D from the off.
Xavier doesn’t exactly do anything bad when you look at their Ken Pomeroy stats but they also don’t do anything good. They’re woefully ordinary thus far but, this year more than ever, they’ll have a chance to make a lot of noise based on the strength of the top half of the conference. All it takes is a win against a Temple and a VCU and all of a sudden the Musketeers are back and Mack is a tactical genius, etc..
Temple is a three point favorite heading into tonight’s game and KenPom has the Owls winning 66-64. As ‘bad’ as the Muskies may be this year, this will be a big time road test for the Owls. A10 play opened last night at only one road team managed to win (No. 14 Butler defeated Saint Joe’s 72-66).
If the Owls can steal a few conference road games and hold serve at home then I foresee good things in their immediate future.
One final thought…how much of a joke is it that this game won’t be on the CBS Sports Network? The A10 might be a great conference on the court but the way it goes about handling it’s broadcasting is awful. UMass and Saint Louis will be on at 9pm so why not make it an Atlantic 10 doubleheader with TU and X at 7pm?
Put me in charge of a sports network and I’ll make good things happen.