- Trevon Bluiett's explosive second half anchored Xavier's 70–65 upset of Maryland on Thursday night in Orlando.
ORLANDO, Fla. — A Xavier star went from ice cold to white hot and led his team into the round of 32. Here are three points from the Musketeers’ 70–65 win against Maryland.
1. Xavier guard Trevon Bluiett scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the second half to spark the Musketeers. Xavier played basically even with the Terrapins for a half as Bluiett struggled. He missed his first seven shots, finally breaking the streak with a three-pointer with 2:54 remaining in the first half.
Bluiett heated up in the second, making his first six shots as the Musketeers built a lead. The final make of Bluiett’s streak was a layup that put the Musketeers up 63–52 with 7:03 remaining. “The first half just kind of felt a little sped up,” Bluiett said. “Probably just kind of excited to be out there in tournament time. My mentality never wavered. It was just, be there for my team, make the right plays, and once I just settled down a little bit, my team kept instilling that confidence in me to score the ball. So I just tried to read the defense, and it all turned out well.” Freshman guard Kevin Huerter led Maryland with 19 points on 5 of 13 shooting. The rest of the Terps also struggled from the field. Maryland shot 40.7% for the night.
Xavier advances to face the winner of Thursday’s Florida Gulf Coast-Florida State game.
2. The seeding in this game reflected the full season, but it wound up being a tad misleading considering the trajectory of these teams. Maryland started 20–2, but then its freshmen hit the wall and the Terps lost six of their last 10 heading into the NCAA Tournament. Xavier, meanwhile, lost top playmaker Edmond Sumner to an ACL tear in late January. Bluiett struggled with an ankle injury in February. The Musketeers lost six in a row from Feb. 11 to March 1 as they dealt with the double-whammy of trying to replace Sumner with Bluiett hobbled. “I don't think that we were as beat up as people think,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “We play in a hellacious league. A three-game road trip was sandwiched by two of the best teams in the country. And I'm just proud of our group for being able to stick with each other and not necessarily worry about outsiders' expectations or outsiders' perceptions of our so-called problems.”
A win at DePaul followed by two wins in the Big East Tournament took Xavier off the bubble, and it seemed during the Big East tourney that the Musketeers had finally adjusted to life without Sumner. “We kept working. We kept battling,” Mack said. “We knew we had a lot at stake when we went up to DePaul, and we handled our business and did the same thing in the Big East Tournament. I'm proud of these guys and happy for them they're able to play with a little bit of freedom in the NCAA Tournament that we didn't feel during that stretch.”
So Maryland wound up facing a team that might also have been a No. 6 seed had it not faced some serious adversity during the season. So when the recently surging team beat the recently faltering team, it didn’t feel like much of an upset.
3. The Life Athletic with (proud dad) Bill Murray.