Offense is the name of the game for Xavier. On Thursday, the West No. 6 seed Musketeers used that offense to make a statement in the NCAA tournament, beating 11-seeded Ole Miss 76-57 in the Round of 64.
The Musketeers, which rank 26th in kenpom.com’s adjusted offensive efficiency rankings, wasted no time jumping out to a lead. They used an 11-0 run to take an 11-3 lead five minutes in against the Rebels. A few minutes later, that lead ballooned to 21-10 on a three-pointer by J.P. Macura.
Matt Stainbrook was a force for the Musketeers, particularly in the first half. He reached double-digits on an and-one play with 8:20 left until halftime. The 6'10", 270-pound forward finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Xavier remained in control at halftime with a 34-21 lead. But Ole Miss couldn’t find any offense, shooting 30% through 20 minutes. The Musketeers weren’t having any trouble on offense, however; they recorded 10 assists on 11 made field goals in the first half.
Xavier continued to pour it on after the break. It built a 52-35 lead at the 12:48 mark, the team’s largest up to that point.
The Rebels, meanwhile, couldn’t catch a break. With 11:10 to play, Aaron Jones missed a wide-open baseline dunk. Ole Miss was shooting 29.6% from the field after that miss.
Coach Andy Kennedy’s team was able to cut Xavier’s lead to 10, 60-50, but once again Stainbrook came through in the post. The forward hit a layup for his 17th and 18th points of the day. The Rebels appeared physically drained at times, having earned a come-from-behind win over BYU in the First Four less than 48 hours earlier in Dayton. The Musketeers, however, had the necessary energy to move on.
Coach Chris Mack’s program earned wins over ranked Butler and Georgetown squads in the Big East tournament before falling to Villanova in the title game last weekend. Now Xavier moves on to the Round of 32 to face Georgia State, which upset Baylor on Thursday.