ST. LOUIS –- Midway through the second half of Friday's first-round NCAA tournament game, Xavier's Jalen Reynolds rose up and dunked the ball like he had a personal vendetta against rims. The force of Reynolds' slam was so severe that he fell down upon its completion.
Fortunately for the Musketeers, their inside power mostly just floored Weber State. The No. 2 seed controlled the game from start to finish and won 71-53 because of its superior beef inside.
There was the 238-pound Reynolds, who scored 12 points -- his most since Feb. 9 against Creighton. And there was 244-pound James Farr, a former project who developed into an offensive presence as a senior. Farr continued his late-season scoring surge with a team-high 18 points. He has averaged 15 points over his past seven games.
Xavier's big men did more than just score. They thoroughly owned the paint and the backboards, outrebounding Weber State 43-27. That helped lead to 16 second-chance points.
Farr led the way there, too, with 15 rebounds. He's still mostly a blunt-force object who lacks a lot of touch on his shots, but he's a load to handle when he posts up or sets a bludgeoning screen.
Farr, Reynolds & Co. also did an excellent job corralling Big Sky player of the year Joel Bolomboy. Xavier coach Chris Mack rightly worried that Bolomboy -- who was third in the nation in rebounding this season -- could be the kind of player who keys a major upset. He finished with a solid but not spectacular 14 points and 10 rebounds.
A 15-seed beat a No. 2-seed earlier in the day in St. Louis when Middle Tennessee shocked Michigan State. Xavier was no doubt aware of that. But unlike Michigan State, the Musketeers used their physical advantages to stave off any threat. A Big Sky team like Weber State just doesn't face that kind of interior power too often. Then again, not many teams do.