Scouting report: Xavier basketball tries to bounce back against Virginia Tech

Adam Baum
Cincinnati Enquirer

BROOKLYN – Xavier didn't have the toughness or execution required to get the job done on Wednesday night against Iowa State, and if that doesn't change on Friday night (7 p.m., ESPN2) then the Musketeers (4-1) could be staring at a second straight loss when they meet Virginia Tech (5-1) at the Barclays Center in the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Virginia Tech went toe-to-toe with No. 9 Memphis on Wednesday in a 69-61 loss, so the Hokies, ranked just outside the Associated Press Top-25, will be a challenge for Xavier. 

Virginia Tech only allows 51.7 points per game and the Hokies are shooting 41% from 3-point range. The Hokies like to control the pace offensively and run a lot of set plays. They share the ball and have three players – Nahiem Alleyne, Storm Murphy and Hunter Cattoor – that can really shoot it from the perimeter. 

Defensively, Virginia Tech likes to pack it in and switch on ball screens one through four. The Hokies do a good job defending the 3-point line and they limit driving opportunities. 

More:Defense falls flat as Xavier basketball suffers first loss of the season to Iowa State

Xavier Musketeers guard Paul Scruggs (1) and Norfolk State Spartans guard Tyrese Jenkins (5) swipe the ball away from each other as they chase it out of bounds down the sideline 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.

Xavier needs a complete game at both ends of the floor. The Musketeers can't give up easy points at one end and have empty possessions at the other or else it will be a repeat of what happened on Wednesday. 

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The Game

  • Tipoff: 7 p.m. on Friday at the Barclays Center
  • TV/Radio: ESPN2 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: Xavier leads the series 9-4.

Scouting Report

Xavier Musketeers (4-1)

Coach: Travis Steele, fourth season (55-38 overall)

Offense: 73.0 ppg

Defense: 62.8 ppg

Projected lineup

Player (Position, Height, Key Stat)

Paul Scruggs (G, 6'5", 13.2 ppg)

Jerome Hunter (F, 6'8", 6.8 rpg)

Colby Jones (G, 6'6", 12.6 ppg)

Dieonte Miles (F, 6'11", 3.2 rpg)

Nate Johnson (G, 6'4", 9.6 ppg)

Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1)

Coach: Mike Young, 20th season (335-268 overall)

Offense: 73.7 ppg

Defense: 51.7 ppg

Projected lineup

Player (Position, Height, Key Stat)

Nahiem Alleyne (G, 6'4", 12.3 ppg)

Keve Aluma (F, 6'9", 12.7 ppg)

Hunter Cattoor (G, 6'3", 8.3 ppg)

Justyn Mutts (F, 6'7", 9.5 ppg)

Storm Murphy (G, 6'0", 9.8 ppg)

Players to watch

Nahiem Alleyne 

Alleyne's a 40% shooter from beyond the arc and a 95% free-throw shooter. He leads Virginia Tech in minutes per game (31.5). 

Paul Scruggs

Scruggs played his worst game of the season on Wednesday with a 1-for-14 shooting performance and a defensive showing that left a lot to be desired. Xavier needs its senior leader to step up and bounce back on Friday. 

Key to the game

Defense

Even though Xavier didn't shoot it well on Wednesday, the inability to get stops put pressure on the offense and the result was a game in which the Musketeers looked rushed and uncomfortable offensively. Xavier's defense is the best way to get the offense going. 

Rankings

KenPom.com: Xavier (38); Virginia Tech (26).