Scouting report: No. 25 Xavier vs. Iowa State in the NIT Season Tip-Off at the Barclays Center

Adam Baum
Cincinnati Enquirer

For the first time this season, Xavier men's basketball will step outside of the friendly confines of Cintas Center with a trip to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. 

Xavier (4-0), which climbed into the Associated Press poll on Monday at No. 25, faces off against Iowa State (4-0) on Wednesday night (7 p.m., ESPNU) in the NIT Season Tip-Off, marking the third time Xavier's played in the event, but the first time under the new format. 

T.J. Otzelberger's in his first season as Iowa State's head coach and he's already won more games this season than the Cyclones won all of last season (2-22). 

Analysis: A look at the 4-0 start for the Xavier Musketeers, MVP, most improved and more

Iowa State has a number of guys who can score and they play an aggressive style of defense.

 "Whether it's Gabe Kalscheur, Izaiah Brockington ... those two guys are prolific scorers, they're gonna take a lot of shots and be really, really aggressive," said Xavier head coach Travis Steele Monday in his pre-game press conference. "We gotta do a great job on those guys. Then on the other end, they're gonna be very aggressive, they're physical defensively, they're going to pressure the ball. They're going to mix up their ball-screen coverages throughout the game. So we have to do a great job taking care of the ball. And we've just gotta continue to be who we've been on the glass, offensive rebound, defensive rebound, get extra possessions that way."

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Xavier needs to move the ball the way it moved on Sunday, take care of it, and continue to defend and rebound at a high level. 

The Musketeers will play either Memphis, No. 9 in the AP poll, or No. 27 Virginia Tech on Friday night at the Barclays. 

The Game

  • Tipoff: 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Barclays Center
  • TV/Radio: ESPNU with play-by-play from Rich Hollenberg and analysis from Fran Fraschilla. Byron Larkin and Joe Sunderman will have the radio call on WKRC-AM (550).
  • Series info: The series is tied 1-1. This will be the first meeting since 2005.

Scouting Report

Xavier Musketeers (4-0)

Coach: Travis Steele, fourth season (55-37 overall)

Offense: 73.8 ppg

Defense: 58.0 ppg

Projected lineup

Player (Position, Height, Key Stat)

Paul Scruggs (G, 6'5", 15.8 ppg)

Jerome Hunter (F, 6'8", 7.0 rpg)

Colby Jones (G, 6'6", 13.0 ppg)

Dieonte Miles (F, 6'11", 3.5 rpg)

Nate Johnson (G, 6'4", 10.0 ppg)

Iowa State Cyclones (4-0)

Coach: T.J. Otzelberger, sixth season (103-63 overall)

Offense: 73.5 ppg

Defense: 57.5 ppg

Projected lineup

Player (Position, Height, Key Stat)

Tristan Enaruna (F, 6'8", 5.8 ppg)

Tyrese Hunter (G, 6'0", 12.8 ppg)

Izaiah Brockington (G, 6'4", 13.5 ppg)

Gabe Kalscheur (G, 6'4", 11.0 ppg)

George Conditt (F, 6'9", 5.3 rpg)

Players to watch

Izaiah Brockington 

Iowa State guard Izaiah Brockington (1) celebrates after a dunk against Alabama State during the second half at Hilton Coliseum Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Ames, Iowa.

The Penn State senior transfer leads the Cyclones in scoring (13.5) and rebounding (8.3). The two somewhat close games Iowa State's played this season against Oregon State and Alabama State, Brockington's played 37 minutes in each game, which speaks to his importance. 

Jack Nunge

Xavier Musketeers forward Jack Nunge (24) blocks a shot by Norfolk State Spartans forward Nyzaiah Chambers (1) in the first half of the NCAA basketball game between the Xavier Musketeers and the Norfolk State Spartans at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. Xavier led 45-16 at halftime.

In his pre-game press conference, Steele emphasized that Xavier has to play through Nunge more in the post. The 7-footer has skill around the basket and when he gets the ball on the block he's shown the ability to generate a good shot for himself or find one of his open teammates. 

Key to the game

Ball control, ball movement

The next step Xavier has to make in its progression is playing cleaner basketball. If the Musketeers can start to eliminate turnovers consistently, it will be another step in the right direction of becoming a better team. While taking care of it, Xavier has to move the ball like it did against Norfolk State, which got everyone involved and provided good looks from the perimeter.  

Rankings

KenPom.com: Xavier (32); Iowa State (111).