Thursday, March 20, 2008

Early Returns: Xavier, Kansas, Michigan St. Advance

(3) Xavier 73 (14) Georgia 61
Xavier had their hands full with the determined Bulldogs, finding themselves down by nine points at the end of the first half. Georgia shot 55% (16-29) to Xavier's 36% (10-28) in the opening period.

In the second half, the Bulldogs began to unravel under Xavier's relentless pressure defense, picking up their 7th team foul and putting the Musketeers into the bonus with 12 minutes still to play.

With the score 46-36 in favor of Georgia, Xavier went on a 16-3 run to completely turn the game around. Consecutive 3-pointers by B.J. Raymond and freshman Dante Jackson gave the Musketeers a 52-49 lead with 7:18 remaining. Jackson's trey was his first shot of the game and it was huge as Xavier led the rest of the way.

As time wore down, Georgia continued to turn the ball over and Xavier kept penetrating, scoring and hitting their free throws.

The free throw disparity was glaring. Xavier hit on 27 of 33 attempts, while the Bulldogs only went to the line just 5 times, hitting three.

Josh Duncan led all scorers with 20 points. The Musketeers advance, and will play the winner of the Purdue-Baylor game on Saturday.

(1) Kansas 85 (16) Portland St. 61
As expected, the Jayhawks had few problems handling Portland State. Kansas led from the opening basket, quickly establishing a double-digit advantage and keeping the Vikings at bay the rest of the way.

Brandon Rush led the way with 18 points. Darrell Arthur had 17 and Mario Chalmers scored 16.

(5) Michigan St. 72 (12) Temple 61
The Spartans couldn't buy a basket from the outside, but got plenty of scoring in the lane and in transition against the Owls. Temple had problems from the very start finding open shots, as the Spartans' defense kept everything on the perimeter and contested every shot.

Drew Neitzel finally hit his first shot from the field with under a minute to go in the first half, a three-pointer which gave the Spartans a 10-point lead just before the half. While Neitzel finished with only 5 points, hitting only 1-8 from 3-point range, his overall floor generalship was a key to the Michigan State win.

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