With Control For Most Of The Game Xavier Upsets Maryland To Advance
In one of their best performances of the season, Xavier upsets Maryland and defeats them by the final score of 76-65 to advance in the next round.
“Any time you can advance in the NCAA Tournament, you’re really fortunate,” Xavier head Coach Chris Mack said. “Played a very well-coached team in Maryland, a team that we had a lot of respect for. Their guards present a lot of problems, and I thought our zone, especially in the second half, for the most part, at least last eight to ten minutes, did the job and kept them out of the lane for the most part.”
Xavier had control most of the game and that was because of a very good start that they had. They we’re up by as much as nine in the first but Maryland came back and even took a one point lead at halftime. Part of it was the struggle of guard Trevon Bluiett who went 1-8 in the first half. Bluiett talked about that after the game.
“Honestly, I felt like 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, still 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.”
The second half was a different story as Bluiett went off going 7-8 shooting for the half and scored 18 points in the second half, 21 for the game and also four assists, four rebounds and an incredible four steals as well. Bluiett on what changed in the second half.
“I mean, it may have looked like it, but it was just, once I get a couple to go in, then you get a little rhythm going, and then everything starts to fall in, and everything you shoot just feels good.” Bluiett said.
Also in the second half, Xavier took over the game as they were hitting three after three, getting calls to go their way and making the necessary stops that they needed in order to take out Maryland. A big part of it was a 14-0 run that they had in the second half as well. Sean O’Mara talks about that run after the game.
“Just to keep our foot on the gas no matter what the score says,” O’Mara said. “Just know what we’re capable of and take care of the ball on offense. As long as we get a good look every possession, I feel like we’re going to have a pretty good run. I feel like our defense is solid, as long as we’re working together and communicating. To be able to do that is just what we need to do to win.”
They were also able to keep star player of Maryland, Melo Trimble under control which was a big part of why they were able to win this game. Trimble only had 13 points in this game including going 1-9 from the tree point line. Coach Mack couldn’t be more proud of the way they defended Trimble under control.
“I think they did a terrific job,” Mack said. “Just because you’re in zone doesn’t mean you’re not going to have personal, individual challenges. You’re going to face those all the time and I thought did a great job of cutting him off, putting his chest on him and not necessarily let him get downhill and get an angle.”
With the win, Xavier will move on to the round of 32 and will go up against FSU in one of their biggest challenges of the season to date.