Tuesday night West Region No. 11 Ole Miss was able to advance into the Round of 64 with a 94-90 win over BYU, scoring 62 points in the second half of that game. Faced with a far more formidable opponent from a defensive standpoint on Thursday, the Rebels’ season came to an end with a 76-57 loss to No. 6 Xavier.
Chris Mack’s Musketeers knocked down ten three-pointers, and in the second half they shot 55.6 percent from the field to put away a game they grabbed control of in the latter stages of the first half. Matt Stainbrook controlled things in the post for Xavier, tallying 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists. and guard Dee Davis added 17 points to lead the way offensively. Stainbrook’s fingerprints were all over the game offensively, with his skill set proving to be too much for Ole Miss to handle.
However for as good as they were at time offensively, what was even more impressive for the Musketeers Thursday afternoon was their play on the defensive end.
Ole Miss shot jut 32.9 percent from the field, and while some of that could be attributed to fatigue as they expended a lot of energy in Dayton two nights ago, the biggest issue for Andy Kennedy’s team was that Xavier didn’t allow them to establish much of anything. Stefan Moody, who was outstanding against BYU, scored 14 points on 5-for-18 shooting and more often than not the Rebels resorted to attempting challenged jump shots.
Ole Miss attempted 17 more shots on the afternoon, and in addition to shooting 6-for-27 from three they only attempted five free throws (making three). By comparison, Xavier shot 10-for-23 from three and 14-for-21 from the foul line as they were able to get better shots on their end of the floor.
Next up for Xavier is Georgia State, which edged No. 3 Baylor on an R.J. Hunter three-pointer with 2.9 seconds remaining. In order to advance to the Sweet 16 the Musketeers will need to be efficient offensively while also clamping down on the other end, and they’re definitely capable of doing so.