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Buffalo-Xavier Preview

CINCINNATI -- No rest for weary Xavier.

Less than 72 hours after a sloppy 84-81 victory over Lehigh in their regular season home opener, the seventh-ranked Musketeers must hop right back in the saddle.

With senior guard Myles Davis suspended and forward Kaiser Gates recovering from knee surgery, XU isn't nearly as deep as its been in recent years. That showed up on Friday when Patriot League favorite Lehigh pushed them until the final buzzer.

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The Musketeers, who host Buffalo on Monday night at 7 p.m. at Cintas Center, began the season with only eight scholarship players.

"It's no secret right now, we don't have a ton of depth," said head coach Chris Mack.

Xavier's options still are better than many teams in the country.

On Friday, Trevon Bluiett scored a career-high 25 points with 11 rebounds and three assists. Edmond Sumner added a personal-best 24 points and Sean O'Mara tied a career-high with 10 points.

But, Mack wasn't pleased with Bluiett's defensive effort or Sumner's ball handling, given he committed six of the team's 17 turnovers which helped spark Lehigh's upset bid.

"Some of the mistakes we made were inexcusable down the stretch," Mack said. "It's inexcusable. We have to correct those. We turn the page quickly and play Buffalo on Monday. "

Mack said he'd wait until after Monday's game to respond when asked if it's better to get back on the court barely two days after Friday's performance or if he'd prefer to get some practice time in.

The Musketeers are in a learning curve early in the season but still talented enough to be picked second in the Big East Conference behind defending national champion Villanova.

Buffalo is dealing with its own depth issues heading into Monday's game which is the first meeting between the two teams.

The Bulls defeated Niagara 76-66 on Friday night despite playing without top guard C.J. Massinburg who's out indefinitely with mononucleosis.

"We're a little thin in the backcourt without C.J.," head coach Nate Oats told the Buffalo News.

Monday marks the second game for senior wing Blake Hamilton who returned after being out six weeks with a broken bone in his left hand. He scored 11 points on Friday.

Backup forward David Kadiri is day to day with a knee injury.

As for Davis' status with Xavier, it was unchanged as of Friday.

Earlier this week, Davis, who averaged nearly 11 points and led the team in assists last season, pleaded guilty to one charge of disorderly conduct involving damage to his ex-girlfriend's property. Mack said Davis would have to earn his way back on to the team.

The Musketeers certainly could use him. At one point in Friday's game, Xavier had two freshman and four first-year players on the court at once.

This isn't the same Xavier team which went 28-6 and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. By March, it's likely that talent will mesh, but for now XU is a work in progress. On Friday, Lehigh's bench outscored Xavier's 23-7.

"It's not algebra," said Mack. "You look down (the bench), there isn't a lot of options, there's maybe two or three."