Xavier Topples Arizona, Kansas Routs Purdue

SONG SELECTION:

Lana Del Rey, “In Love”

New album Lust For Life to be released on July 21, 2017

Gutsy game plan pays off

The Xavier Musketeers stayed in step with Arizona the entire way at the SAP Center in San Jose.  Even after a missed 1-and-1 that could have iced the game with 22 seconds left, Alonzo Trier had all day to shoot.  His three point attempt to win it for the Wildcats went in and out.  As Xavier frantically grabbed the rebound, two Arizona players tried in vain to foul and stop the clock.  They couldn’t and a massive celebration was on.  The final score was 83-81.  Malcolm Bernard had 15 huge points and Trevon Bluiett again led the way with 25.

Their final opponent on Saturday night, 6:09 p.m. Eastern tip time will be the top seed of Gonzaga, who barely got by West Virginia 61-58.  Four of five starters for the Bulldogs finished in double figures.  Jevon Carter led all scorers for West Virginia with 23 in a tough luck defeat.

The Bulldogs led by eight points earlier in the second half before West Virginia’s press became a factor and they managed to make a game of it.  However, West Virginia failed to score a single point in the final 1:46.  Jordan Mathews three with under a minute left proved to be the winning margin.  However, West Virginia had Carter missing two straight-on three attempts in the final 22 seconds and that was the Mountaineers undoing.

The game also had 51 personal fouls, with West Virginia hitting 21-of-29 from the free-throw line while Gonzaga was 21-of-32 from the charity stripe.

Special history could await with Xavier

This was only the second time that an 11 seed beat three teams in the top six in their region.  The first to do it was way back in 1986 when LSU made their surprise run to Dallas and that year’s Final Four, the last season before the three-point shot came into play.  Besides LSU in 1986, only George Mason in 2006 and VCU in 2011 reached the Final Four as an 11 seed.

One more whisker and a blowout in Kansas City

The first game of the Midwest Regional semifinal featured Michigan and Oregon.  Early on, Michigan seemed to be in control hitting on three treys in their first four attempts in the first six minutes.  However, Dillon Brooks heated up and by the time the Michigan offense tried to catch up in the second half, it was too late.

Oregon’s Dylan Ennis missed on the front end of a one-and-one with 15 seconds to play.  Walton sprinted downcourt and had a chance to win it for Michigan, but failed badly on a jump shot with a little over two seconds to play.

Brooks finished with 12 points on 5 of 13 shooting.  Tyler Dorsey led the charge with 20 points, including an incredible 5 of 7 from long distance.  The key stats in this game included the fact that there were 20 lead changes, both teams combined to commit only 13 turnovers (Michigan 5 and Oregon with 8).

Michigan guard Derrick Walton had 20 points to go along with 8 assists and five rebounds.  Zak Irvin also had a nice game with 19 points and a team high 8 rebounds.

The blowout happened in the second half as Kansas pitched a nearly perfect effort in mostly shutting down Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan as Kansas clubbed Purdue to the tune of a whopping 98-66 final score.  This total included 15 treys.

The Boilermakers shot over 55 percent in the first half to keep the game close, trailing only 53-51.  However, Kansas proceeded to score 19 of the next 24 points to put the game away.

With former Kansas coach Larry Brown in attendance, he and the fans watched in wonder as Frank Mason III led a balanced Jayhawks attack with 26 points, nailing 9 of his 11 shots from the floor.  This included an amazing 4 of 5 from long distance.  Mason pitched in with seven rebounds and seven assists.  Fellow guard Devonte’ Graham also chipped in with 26 of his own, as this was the first time any two Kansas players had at least a pair of 25 point scorers in an NCAA Tournament since 1971.  They have scored 90 points in their first three tournament games, matching a feat not seen since the early days of the Internet–when UConn did it in under Jim Calhoun’s long tenure in 1995.

Kansas shot 18 of 27 during the second half, while Purdue limped to the finish missing 20 of their 29 final shots from the floor.

Caleb Swanigan led the Boilers in a losing cause with 18 points, but only snagged seven rebounds–well below his season average.  P.J. Thompson had 12, while Isaac Haas had 11 points.  Dakota Mathias, one of the key cogs down the stretch for the Big Ten regular season champions was held to only one three-point basket.

See you all on Friday as the Big Ten is down to only one hope remaining with Wisconsin.  For the Pac-12 besides Oregon, all that is left is the all-time kings of the sport in UCLA.

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