NCAA Basketball

No. 23 Xavier ready to visit Wake Forest

No. 23 Xavier is on a good roll, even if it doesn't always seem that way.

The Musketeers will have another chance to enhance their portfolio of early success when they visit Wake Forest for Saturday's game at Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"I doesn't feel like we're 9-1. I feel like we're 0-10 at times," Xavier coach Travis Steele said. "We're nowhere close to our ceiling as a team."

Xavier is coming of a 73-66 victory against Cincinnati in the crosstown rivalry game last Saturday.

Meanwhile, Wake Forest (5-5) will aim to snap a three-game losing streak.

This matchup is dubbed the Skip Prosser Classic, named in memory of the man who coached basketball at both schools.

For Xavier, there's no time for a letdown even with the most recent game for the Musketeers coming against a rival.

"We should always be locked in," said junior Naji Marshall, who matched his career high with 31 points in the Cincinnati game. "We know the consequences of not staying locked in and that's losing. We don't want to lose."

This will be only the fourth home game of the season for Wake Forest, which lost a week ago to visiting North Carolina State. In that 91-82 outcome, the Demon Deacons committed 19 turnovers.

"We can't win like that," guard Chaundee Brown said. "We've got to take care of the ball. That's on us."

That was one of several problems that have infected the Demon Deacons, who allowed 52.3-percent shooting from the field and were outrebounded 33-29.

"Defensively we have to do more to discourage that from happening," Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said.

Wake Forest had been a solid rebounding team much of this season. The Demon Deacons could benefit if they hit the boards hard against Xavier.

The Musketeers have been hurt by opponents' offensive rebounding.

"We've got to shore that up," Steele said. "That has hurt us. That has been a pattern. We've got to clean that area up."

Yet for the most part, Xavier has found the right mixture.

"It's all about that toughness," Steele said. "It's all about that togetherness."

Marshall's production can hide some flaws for the Musketeers.

"Naji is a big-time player. It's a players' game, you have to be the aggressor," Steele said. "He was able to get to his spots."

Wake Forest also had a big-time scorer in its most recent game, with senior guard Brandon Childress pumping in 30 points. He was 10 of 13 from the field, with the rest of the team 17 of 39.

Childress said the Demon Deacons need to reduce lapses that have tended to put the team in holes.

The Skip Prosser Classic was first played in the 2009-10 season. Wake Forest and Xavier have adjusted the series, with the teams playing two consecutive seasons followed by a two-year break.

Xavier leads the series 5-2, including victories in the last three meetings. It the six meetings that have been part of the Skip Prosser Classic, five have been decided by single-digit margins.

Prosser coached seven seasons at Xavier and six seasons at Wake Forest.

--Field Level Media

Updated December 13, 2019

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