Courtesy of GoXavier.com
MAUI, HAWAII – The Xavier Musketeers will open play in the 2018 Maui Jim Maui Invitational vs. Auburn on Monday, Nov. 19 at 9:30 a.m. Hawaii time, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m. ET in Cincinnati. This is the first-ever trip to the elite event for Xavier or Auburn. The XU-Auburn game, which pits the 2018 regular season champions of the BIG EAST Conference vs. the 2018 regular season champions of the Southeastern Conference, is the first game of this year’s Maui Invitational.
Xavier’s second game on Tuesday, Nov. 20 will be against either Duke or San Diego State, who face off at noon Hawaii time on Monday. The 2018 Maui Jim Maui Invitational will be played November 19-21 at Maui’s famed Lahaina Civic Center. All 12 Maui games will be telecast by ESPN networks.
“We are honored to be a part of such a talented tournament field,” said Xavier first-year head coach Travis Steele, who was on the XU staff for 10 years previously. “It’s exciting for our players and fans to participate in such a prestigious event for the first time in program history. The tournament adds to our challenging non-conference schedule that will prepare us for the BIG EAST season.”
The 2018 event will feature eight Division I programs for the first time in its 35-year history. Xavier is part of an eight-team field that includes six teams made the 2018 NCAA Tournament, including Xavier, Duke, Arizona, Gonzaga, San Diego State and Auburn. Illinois and Iowa State complete the field.
Xavier and Auburn have met nine times previously in men’s basketball. Xavier holds a 5-4 advantage in the series, including wins in five of the last six matchups. XU defeated AU 85-61 at Cintas Center in the last meeting on Dec. 19, 2015.
Xavier, 29-6 overall, won its first BIG EAST Conference Regular Season Championship last season with a 15-3 record. Xavier, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, played in its fifth straight NCAA Tournament, its 12th in the last 13 years and its 16th in the last 18 years.
Despite the loss of five key members of last season’s BIG EAST Champions, Xavier has plenty of returning talent. Junior Quentin Goodin is XU’s top returning scorer (8.7 ppg.) and junior Tyrique Jones (4.5 rpg.) is the top returning rebounder. Goodin was third in the BIG EAST in assists at 4.9 apg. and assist/turnover ratio at 2.14. Sophomore Naji Marshall, who was a unanimous selection to the 2018 BIG EAST Conference All-Freshman Team, is the second-leading returning scorer (7.7 ppg.) and rebounder (4.4 rpg.). Sophomore Paul Scruggs played in 34 games as a freshman, averaging 16.8 minutes a game.
Auburn finished 26-8 last season under head coach Bruce Pearl, winning the SEC Regular Season Championship and making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003. Senior Bryce Brown and junior Jared Harper, the team’s second- and third-leading scorers from a season ago at 15.9 ppg. and 13.2 ppg. respectively, lead the returnees for the Tigers. Brown was a 2018 First Team All-SEC selection.