The Xavier Musketeers (22-13) will play the Georgia State Panthers on Saturday in Jacksonville, after defeating Ole Miss (21-13) 76-57. They were led by senior center Matt Stainbrook, who had 20 points and nine rebounds and shot 8-10 from the field. Dee Davis added 17 and went 4-9 from behind the arc.
“I think 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, and Dee and a couple other guys, J.P. were hitting some big shots outside to keep the floor stretched,” said Stainbrook, the 6-10 senior. “They did look a little tired and they had to play that game [the play-in], but over all they were a really tough team.”
Ole Miss, an 11- seed, played on Tuesday in the First Four and beat BYU 94-90, to earn the right to play Xavier, a 6-seed. They struggled against the Musketeers, shooting just 33 percent from the floor and 22 percent from three-point range. They may have been worn down after overcoming a 17-point deficient against BYU. The Rebels missed their first 18 out of 27 shots, while their guards, Stefan Moody and Jarvis Summers, finished a combined 5-26 from the field.
“We certainly did not play well today. All credit goes to Xavier,” said Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy. “They had complete control of the tempo from the start, and we were never able to wrestle it away from them.”
Ole Miss refused to use fatigue as an excuse.
“We can’t use that as an excuse. We put ourselves in this situation, and we just had to bounce back, and we didn’t make it happen,” said Summers, who was 0-8 from the floor. Ole Miss cut a 17-point hole down to a 10-point one, but that was as close as they got. Xavier shot 46 percent from the floor and 44 percent from threes. They led for 36:43 in a game which they controlled from the opening tip.
Xavier will play GSU, who upset no. 3-seed Baylor in a stunning comeback.