No. 6 seed Xavier's inside-out duo befuddles No. 11 Mississippi
Having already dismissed the First Four's comeback kids, Xavier now gets the NCAA tournament's little darlings.
Matt Stainbrook scored 20 points, Dee Davis added 17 and the sixth-seeded Musketeers beat No. 11 seed Mississippi 76-57 in the West Regional on Thursday.
The 6-foot-10 Stainbrook took advantage of his size in the post, making 8 of 10 shots in the paint and adding nine rebounds and five assists.
Davis was nearly as good from the outside, hitting 4 of 9 shots from 3-point range. Coach Chris Mack pulled them to a rousing ovation with 1:51 remaining and the game in hand.
"We did a good job sort of pounding the ball inside to begin with, and when we can do that and establish inside, then it really opens up the outside," Stainbrook said. "Dee and a couple other guys were hitting some big shots outside to keep the floor stretched."
Xavier (22-13) advanced to face 14th-seeded Georgia State on Saturday. The Panthers already had been the talk of the tournament, with oddly injured coach Ron Hunter on the sideline and former Louisville guard Kevin Ware in the starting lineup. But Georgia State topped both those story lines with a late rally against Baylor. Hunter's son, R.J., drained a 30-footer for the upset -- a shot that literally knocked the father off his chair.
"We worry about what we need to do," Xavier's Remy Abell said. "We feel like if we take care of what we have to do on the offensive end and defensive end, then everything will take care of itself."
The Musketeers did just fine against Ole Miss.
Xavier's inside-out duo was considerably better than Mississippi's two-man guard tandem of Stefan Moody and Jarvis Summers. They finished a combined 5 of 26 from the field. Moody led the Rebels (21-13) with 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting.
"We didn't come with that fight today," said Ole Miss forward M.J. Rhett, who finished with 12 points. "We just didn't come prepared today -- none of us."
Maybe the Rebels had dead legs. After all, they exerted significant energy in overcoming a 17-point deficit to beat BYU in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, about 43 hours earlier.
Ole Miss scored 62 points in the second half Tuesday night, boarded a flight to Jacksonville, got to bed about 5 a.m. Wednesday and spent the next 30 hours playing catch-up.
"We can't use that as an excuse," Summer said. "We put ourselves in this situation and we just had to bounce back, and we didn't make it happen."
The Rebels looked every bit like a tired team. They missed 18 of their first 27 shots, with most of those by Moody and Summers.
They showed signs of life in the second half, even cutting an 18-point deficit to 60-50 with about 7 minutes to play. No surprise, Xavier responded by going inside to Stainbrook. He backed down Dwight Colby and got an easy basket near the rim. Myles Davis followed with a 3 that made it a 15-point game again.
"It's difficult because they were getting a lot of scoring in the low post from the big guy, and then whenever we tried to double-team him -- he's got a good IQ for the game -- and he was just passing out to the guards, and they were making shots," Summers said.
Stainbrook's only notable mistake came when he was called for a technical for jawing with Rhett in the second half. Asked what he said, Stainbrook responded that "it was something like, `Hey, I like your shoes,' and he's like, `Oh, I also like your shoes.' And that's just pretty much what happened."
Stainbrook eventually offered a serious answer and called it a mistake.
"He dunked the ball on me and had a couple words for me and then I knew to come back was stupid," he said. "The second guy always gets noticed, so it was dumb on my part and disappointing. ... That won't happen again. There won't be any other technicals from me."
Mississippi: Former Ole Miss star Marshall Henderson sat in the front row, across the court from the Rebels' bench and spent much of the game heckling refs -- much like he did opposing fans during his college years. He offered his support after the game by high-fiving players as they left the court. ... The Rebels ended the season by losing five of their final seven games.
Xavier: The Musketeers are one of 11 teams that have made the NCAA tournament in nine of the past 10 years. ... They improved to 3-1 against teams from the Southeastern Conference. The Musketeers beat Alabama and Missouri in early December. They lost to Auburn in double overtime.