GAME NOTES: The Xavier Musketeers have one more tune up before they open up Atlantic 10 play as they visit Winston-Salem for a non-conference tilt against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the Skip Prosser Classic.
Xavier will try to end a three-game losing slide in this one before returning to Cincinnati to host Temple on Jan 10. Chris Mack's squad dropped a 60-45 decision to crosstown rival Cincinnati on Dec. 19 before closing out 2012 with close losses to Wofford (56-55) and Tennessee (51-47). The Musketeers enter Wednesday's bout with a 7-5 overall record than includes a 1-1 mark in true road games. Xavier is knocking down 47.1 percent of its field goal attempts to produce just 65.5 points per game, but it is making up for it by holding its opponents to only 60.9 ppg on 40.1 percent shooting from the floor.
Jeff Bzdelik's Demon Deacons are riding a little bit of momentum into this one as they downed UNC Greensboro, 84-70, to improve to 6-5, which gave them a winning record for the first time since Nov. 23. The victory was the second straight and third in four appearances for Wake Forest, which is 4-2 at home this season. The Demon Deacons have been on fire offensively lately with makes on 53.4 percent of their field goal attempts, including 11-of-29 from beyond the arc, over their last two games.
Xavier earned an 85-73 victory over the Demon Deacons in the last meeting between these schools on Dec. 18, 2010. The victory gave the Musketeers a 2-1 edge in the all-time series. The game will be the third in a 10-year series scheduled to honor Skip Prosser, who served as the head coach of both programs.
The Musketeers held a 25-21 edge on the scoreboard at the intermission before they went cold to convert just 7-of-19 field goal attempts and watch their lead evaporate over the final 20 minutes. Travis Taylor scored 12 points, but none of his teammates joined him in double figures as star freshman guard Semaj Christon netted just five point on 1-of-9 shooting. Christon is pacing the team with 13.4 points and 5.1 assists per game through the first 11 games of his promising career. Taylor is the team's top inside threat with 11.1 points and 7.2 boards per outing and Dee Davis is providing averages of 10.5 points and just under four assists per contest from the backcourt. Sophomore forward Justin Martin's recent struggles have been part of the reason for Xavier's losing streak as he has tallied just 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting from the field over the past three games.
Wake Forest was very aggressive on the offensive end its last time out and used a 23-12 edge in points scored on foul shots to overcome its 16 turnovers. The Demon Deacons also closed out the contest strong by hitting 57.7 percent of their field goal tries in the second half to improve to 7-0 all-time versus UNCG. Leading four players in double-figures, Travis McKie scored 19 points to spearhead the charge. The talented forward's strong showing raised his season averages to 14.1 points and 7.9 boards per game. Chase Fischer came off the bench to knock down all three of his 3-point tries against the Spartans to finish with 14 points, while Devin Thomas and C.J. Harris contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively. Harris is the only other double-digit scorer for the Demon Deacons as he is tallying a team-best 14.2 ppg. McKie, Harris, and company could really use a boost to their confidence as they will begin ACC play on Saturday at Duke.
Although Xavier is in a slump and recently lost to a Wofford team it was expected to rout, its early season success that includes a 15-point win over Butler and a six-point road victory over Purdue makes it hard to dismiss the Musketeers in this one. Wake Forest has been inconsistent and will need a third player to step it up on the offensive end to provide support for McKie and Harris.
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