V-RECAPS | NCAA Tournament — Sweet 16 | Friday, March 26
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(7) Xavier 79, (3) Texas 71 -- Xavier and St. Joe's have asked for respect for the Atlantic 10 all season, and after the Musketeers said "Bye, bye" to Texas the A-10 now has two teams in the Elite Eight. Texas had 25 big wins during the season but could not win No. 26 as the Longhorns struggled on the interior, especially much-improved center Jason Klotz, who was just 1-of-10 from the field.
Romain Sato was absolutely brilliant for Xavier, getting to the free-throw line 17 times and making 14 of his attempts. Foul shooting was the big difference overall, with the Musketeers going 25-of-35 and Texas just 12-of-17. The Longhorns got very little production from anyone other than Brandon Mouton and Brian Boddicker. On the other side, Xavier guard Lionel Chalmers did not have his typical great game with 4-of-15 shooting but did provide a steady floor presence.
But there is more to Xavier than Sato and Chalmers. Anthony Myles, Justin Doellman and Justin Cage give Thad Matta's team solid play on the inside, and Dedrick Finn is a solid perimeter player as well.
Xavier was 10-9 at one point this season but has now won 16 of 17 games and is marching on to meet Duke winner.
(1) Duke 72, (5) Illinois 62 -- Duke's Chris Duhon continues to show tremendous courage in the tournament, grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds and handing out eight assists against Illinois despite playing with a painful rib injury. Luol Deng and Shelden Williams were tough inside, Williams especially in the second half. Duke did a great job containing Deron Williams, who shot just 3-of-13 from the floor after making 10 of 13 shots against Cincinnati. The Blue Devils move on to face Xavier, and what a battle of guards we'll see with Duhon and J.J. Redick hooking up with Lionel Chalmers and Romain Sato.
ST. LOUIS REGION
(4) Kansas 100, (9) UAB 74 -- UAB could call its pressure defense "40 Minutes of Hell, Part 2", as Blazers coach Michael Anderson served as a lieutenant to Nolan Richardson during the heyday of Arkansas basketball. UAB's pressure was brilliant against Kentucky in the second round but against Kansas it was an M&mer right from the start. It was a mismatch, baby!
Wayne Simien was too strong on the inside for the Jayhawks, absolutely dominating by scoring 30 points and getting to the free-throw line 20 times. Simien converted 18 of those free throws and got some help from J.R. Giddens and Jeff Graves, who had 13 points in this one and has been a positive force in every tournament game for Kansas. And don't forget Aaron Miles, who did a great job creating opportunities by breaking down the press and dishing out 10 assists.
It was Layup City for Kansas, baby, as the Jayhawks got to the basket repeatedly. Bill Self has his ship headed in the right direction and has shown at Tulsa and Illinois that he knows how to win in the postseason. The question now is whether his team has enough to beat Georgia Tech and advance to the Final Four.
(3) Georgia Tech 72, (10) Nevada 67 -- I was very impressed with Georgia Tech's win over Cinderella team Nevada. Any time a team loses its leading scorer (Tech was without BJ Elder, who hurt his ankle and played just three minutes) yet still comes out on top in a game like that it's really something, man. Marvin Lewis really stepped up, hitting clutch outside shots and dropping in 23 points. This is just his fourth game all season with 20 or more points. Luke Schenscher did a great job on the glass, especially on the defensive glass, and Nevada was stifled by his presence inside. Nevada's Kirk Snyder and Todd Okeson combined for eight baskets in the first half, but Tech's defense tightened up in the second half and that duo combined to shoot just 3-of-19. As a result, Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt is just one game away from his first trip to the Final Four.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.