Rapid Reaction: Xavier 70, Lehigh 58
March, 18, 2012
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Breaking down No. 10-seed Xavier's 70-58 victory over No. 15-seed Lehigh in a South Region third-round game at Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday night:
Overview: A No. 15 seed has never advanced to the Sweet 16 since the NCAA tournament field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Lehigh, which stunned No. 2 Duke on Friday night, won't become the first.
The Musketeers ended the upstart Mountain Hawks' run on Sunday night, after trailing for the entire first half and by as many as 15 points. Xavier advances to the round of 16 for the fourth time since 2008.
After cutting Lehigh's lead to 37-33 at the half, Xavier scored the first seven points of the second half to take its first lead of the game. The Mountain Hawks tied the score at 50 on guard C.J. McCollum's jumper with 10:35 to go, but then they made only one field goal in the next 9 1/2 minutes. Xavier took a 60-52 lead on forward Andre Walker's bankshot with 3:02 left.
Guard Mackey McKnight's 3-pointer pulled the Mountain Hawks to within 60-55, but the Musketeers made six foul shots in the final minute to secure the win.
Turning point: The Mountain Hawks had a 29-16 lead when McCollum, the Patriot League Player of the Year, picked up his second personal foul with 7:00 to play in the first half. He went to the bench, and the Musketeers quickly chipped away at Lehigh's lead. Xavier closed the half with a 17-8 run and then carried its momentum into the second half.
Player of the game: Lehigh had absolutely no answer for Xavier center Kenny Frease, a 7-foot, 275-pound senior from Massillon, Ohio. Frease made his first eight shots and finished with 25 points on 11-for-13 shooting. Frease also grabbed 12 rebounds and man-handled Lehigh's smaller post players on defense.
Stat of the game: 3-for-22 -- That's what the Mountain Hawks shot on 3-pointers, after making 6-of-18 in their 75-70 upset of Duke on Friday night.
Miscellaneous: Xavier guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons harassed McCollum for much of the night. After scoring 30 points against the Blue Devils, McCollum had 14 points on 5-for-22 shooting against the Musketeers, including 0-for-6 on 3-pointers. ... After Florida routed Norfolk State and Xavier beat Lehigh, No. 15-seeds are now 0-6 in their second games of the NCAA tournament. ... Xavier freshman guard Dezmine Wells, from Raleigh, N.C., sprained his ankle after playing eight minutes in the first half and never came back.
What's next: The Musketeers advance to play No. 3-seed Baylor in the semifinals of the South Region in Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Friday.