Texas blows out Xavier 83-71 for spot in NCAA Elite Eight

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Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tyrese Hunter scored 19 points, Marcus Carr and Christian Bishop added 18 apiece, and second-seeded Texas rolled to an 83-71 victory over No. 3 seed Xavier on Friday night to reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years.

Playing most of the way without ailing star Dylan Disu, the Longhorns – the highest seed left after No. 1s Alabama and Houston lost earlier in the night – built a 42-25 lead by halftime. They quickly pushed it past 20 before cruising the rest of the way into a matchup with fifth-seeded Miami on Sunday night for a spot in the Final Four in Houston.

Sir’Jabari Rice had 16 points and Timmy Allen added 11 for the Longhorns (29-8), who kept Souley Boum and the rest of Xavier’s perimeter threats in check while making life miserable for Jack Nunge down low.

Adam Kunkel hit five 3-pointers and led the Musketeers (27-10) with 21 points. Nunge scored 15 but needed 19 shots to get there, while Colby Jones also had 15 points. Boum didn’t hit a field goal until early in the second half and finished with 12 points.

The job the Longhorns did in shutting down Xavier was merely the latest example of some masterful work by interim coach Rodney Terry. The longtime assistant took over in December, when Chris Beard was suspended and later fired over a since-dropped domestic violence charge, and Terry has not only kept the season from falling apart but sent his team soaring.

Things won’t get any easier against Miami, which romped to an 89-75 win over the Cougars.

And especially without Disu, who led the Longhorns to a Big 12 tourney title and earned MVP honors on the same floor just over two weeks ago, and who’d been dominant through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Disu tried to play through a left foot injury that the Longhorns had successfully kept secret Friday night, but he lasted only a couple of minutes before limping off the floor and straight to the locker room. When he returned to the bench, he was wearing a big walking boot, a black hoodie and a grim expression.

Relegated to a 6-foot-9 cheerleader, Disu at least had plenty to celebrate.

Carr got the Longhorns off to a fast start, spinning through the lane like a Tilt-A-Whirl for tough buckets at the rim, and even knocking down a spinning, desperation 3 as the shot clock expired. And when Musketeers coach Sean Miller traded out a man-to-man defense for a zone, the Longhorns began to pound the ball to Bishop in the paint.

With dozens of family and friends on hand, the Creighton transfer from the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, went to work. Bishop threw down one dunk on Carr’s alley-oop lob, then slammed down another a few minutes later.

By the time Allen banked in a half-court heave, the Longhorns had established a 42-25 halftime advantage – and had to be redirected from the Xavier tunnel, where they were busy celebrating, toward their own locker room.

Xavier tried to creep back a couple of times, but the Longhorns never allowed their lead to sniff single digits. And that gave Terry, who returned to Texas after head coaching jobs at Fresno State and UTEP, a chance to breathe deeply and enjoy the moment.

The 54-year-old from the small Texas town of Angleton was on Rick Barnes’ staff the last time the Longhorns reached the Elite Eight, back in 2008. He was on the 2003 staff that guided them all the way to the Final Four, too.

Now, he’s one step away from taking Texas on another improbable trip to college basketball’s biggest stage.

Xavier beats Pitt 84-73, reaches 1st Sweet 16 since 2017

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Jack Nunge scored 18 points, Adam Kunkel added 15 on five first-half 3-pointers, and No. 3 seed Xavier beat 11th-seeded Pittsburgh 84-73 on Sunday to reach its first Sweet 16 since 2017.

Colby Jones had 10 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, and Souley Boum and Jerome Hunter each chipped in with 14 points as all five Xavier starters scored in double digits.

Xavier distributed the ball well, particularly early on with 17 assists on 19 baskets in the first half to build a 48-34 lead at the break. The Musketeers finished with 22 assists.

Xavier (27-9) moves on to play No. 2 seed Texas on Friday in the Midwest Region semifinals in Kansas City, Missouri.

Blake Hinson scored 18 points and Jamarius Burton had 16 for Pitt (24-12).

Nunge set the tone early, dominating the paint with eight points in the first 10 minutes while Jones knocked down two 3s as the Musketeers built a 28-18 lead.

The Musketeers then blew the game open with a 12-2 run behind Kunkel, who made two 3s and threw an alley-oop dunk to Nunge. Kunkel followed with his fifth 3 of the first half to give Xavier a 19-point lead with 1:26 left.

Nunge picked up his fourth foul with 9:35 remaining in the game and Xavier up by 18, a play that ended with Pitt coach Jeff Capel getting slapped with technical foul that left him barking at officials. Pitt guard Greg Elliott stepped in front of his coach and tried to box him out at the scorer’s table to keep him from getting a second tech.

The Musketeers managed just fine without Nunge, pushing the lead to 20 with 7:22 remaining on a jumper by Boum.

Nunge returned but fouled out with 3:18 left and Xavier up by 14.

Burton cut the lead to 10 with an and-one off a drive through an unprotected lane. Elliott’s 3-pointer with 1:45 remaining trimmed Xavier’s lead to eight, but the Panthers did not get closer.


Pitt: The Panthers won their first two NCAA Tournament games since 2014, beating Mississippi State in the First Four and throttling No. 6 Iowa State in the first round. After holding the Cyclones to 41 points on Friday, Pitt allowed Xavier to score 42 in the first 15 minutes. It didn’t help that big man Federiko Federiko played less than a minute because of a knee problem.

Xavier: Sean Miller has the Musketeers headed in the right direction in the first season of his second stint as their coach. After needing to come back from 13 down in the second half to beat 14 seed Kennesaw State, the Musketeers left no doubt about this one, coming out focused and ready to play.


Xavier will face a Longhorns team that has won six straight games.

Nunge’s block seals Xavier’s win over Kennesaw State in NCAAs

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GREENSBORO, N.C – Terrell Burden got a shoulder past his defender and pushed into the paint, locking in on the rim for a chance to move Kennesaw State within reach of its first-ever NCAA Tournament win.

Instead, Xavier’s Jack Nunge descended on him to make the play that capped the Musketeers’ late defensive surge – and saved their season.

Nunge blocked Burden’s driving attempt at a go-ahead layup in the final seconds, and Xavier dug out of a 13-point hole against surprising Kennesaw State to escape with a 72-67 victory in Friday’s first round.

The 7-footer’s block was part of the reason the Owls shot 2-for-15 over the final 9 1/2 minutes, reversing the momentum in a game that had often left third-seeded Xavier (26-9) looking befuddled.

“We didn’t really change much, and that’s oftentimes the story,” said coach Sean Miller, back for his second stint with the Musketeers. “We just did what we do better.”

Souley Boum hit four clinching free throws in the final 2.6 seconds for the Musketeers, who ran off 15 unanswered points as part of a game-ending 24-6 run. That was enough to turn away the 14th-seeded Owls (26-9) in the program’s first-ever March Madness game.

Xavier moves on to face either Iowa State or Pittsburgh on Sunday in the Midwest Region.

Xavier led 68-67 when Burden – who’d been successful all day with dribble penetration – made his move into the paint. But Nunge rotated over and swatted the ball into the backboard.

“In the timeout, we were supposed to switch everything,” Nunge said, adding: “He’s a really good driver at getting to the rim and I just came over and blocked it.”

Burden said everything with the play ran as designed until Nunge’s arrival.

“It was a great play by him to meet me at the rim,” Burden said.

The ball eventually made its way to Boum, who hit two free throws with 2.6 seconds left for a 70-67 lead. The Owls had a chance to set up a 3-pointer for the tie, but that desperate play ended when Spencer Rodgers’ right foot landed on the sideline as he caught the inbound pass.

Jerome Hunter scored a career-best 24 points to lead the Musketeers, while Boum had 17. Nunge had 10 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

Burden and Chris Youngblood each scored 14 points to lead Kennesaw State, which appeared on the verge of a signature March moment, playing with an aggressive edge while backed by vocal pockets of fans. At one point, the 5-10 Burden got Nunge on a switch, pulled him outside and blew past him for a layup and a 61-48 lead.

But that’s when Xavier started its desperate push back – and Nunge was ready when Burden challenged him again.

“We did some things early on both ends of the court that helped build that 13-point lead,” Kennesaw State coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said. “But if anybody in that building thought that was going to be how the game stayed, you hadn’t watched much basketball in March – and you probably haven’t watched much basketball in general.”


Kennesaw State: The Owls earned their first bid with a rapid climb, improving from a 1-28 season in Abdur-Rahim’s first year. And before this year, the dual-campus Georgia school with nearly 43,000 students had never had a winning record in its Division I era, which began in the 2005-06 season. It was a memorable season that came oh-so-close to adding a historic win.

Xavier: Five years ago, the Musketeers had won 29 games and reached the NCAA Tournament for the 15th time in 17 seasons, a stretch that began under Miller. But they hadn’t made it since. Miller returned this season for his second stint at Xavier after 12 years at Arizona and immediately ended that five-year drought. It’s also his first trip to the NCAAs since 2018 with the Wildcats.


Boum and teammate Adam Kunkel traded words on the court – with Boum giving Kunkel a bump – leading into a late timeout. They continued jawing across the bench until teammates stepped in.

Boum and Kunkel both shrugged it off, with Kunkel calling it “just the heat of the game.”

“We’ve got to be on point with stuff, and if we get a little emotional, it’s nothing personal,” Boum said, adding they “hugged it out.”


After the game, Abdur-Rahim gathered his team for a moment at midcourt before the Owls headed for the locker room while waving to their boisterous fans.

“I am so proud of this group: who they’ve become, what they’re about, but more importantly, how they respond to adversity, and even how they respond to success,” he said during his news conference, which at one point had him fighting back tears.

“That was a fun basketball game out there today, man. It gets no better than that.”

No. 15 Xavier beats No. 24 Creighton 82-60 in Big East semis

Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

NEW YORK – Souley Boum scored 23 points, Jack Nunge added 17 and No. 15 Xavier cruised into the Big East Tournament championship game with an 82-60 victory against No. 24 Creighton on Friday night.

Coach Sean Miller’s second-seeded Musketeers (25-8) will face top-seeded and sixth-ranked Marquette (27-6) on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in a matchup of teams looking for their first Big East Tournament title.

Xavier has played in the final just once since joining the conference in 2013-14, losing to Villanova in 2015.

The Musketeers seemed to have the smallest contingent of fans at The Garden on semifinal night, but they practically had the place to themselves to celebrate as the clock wound down on a decisive victory.

Boum made a 3-pointer from the wing with 13:55 left to increase the lead to 18 and Creighton (21-12) couldn’t get enough stops to make a run. Xavier shot 52% in the second half and 47% for the game.

Ryan Kalkbrenner led Creighton with 18 points on 7-for-7 shooting. The rest of the Bluejays went 14 for 49 from the field.

Creighton was looking for its third straight Big East championship game appearance and fifth overall. The Bluejays have yet to win the conference tournament since joining the league in 2013-14.

Miller, in the first season of his second stint as Xavier coach, has the Muskeeters in position to win their first conference tournament title since his first run at the Cincinnati school.

Xavier won the Atlantic 10 Tournament in 2006.

Miller spent 12 seasons at Arizona before parting ways with the school after the 2020-21 season amid an NCAA investigation related to the FBI’s case on college basketball recruiting corruption. Miller was never sanctioned by the NCAA.

After a season away from coaching, he returned to Xavier. Miller inherited a veteran team and led it to program-high 15 Big East wins in the regular season.

The Musketeers needed a late comeback to beat 10th-seeded DePaul in the quarterfinals Thursday. But against Creighton, Xavier led almost start to finish.

Xavier built 40-26 lead at halftime, turning 11 Creighton turnovers into 17 points. Boum scored eight straight for the Musketeers during one stretch, with consecutive 3s upping the lead to 12.


Creighton: Point guard Ryan Nembhard, who missed last season’s run to the Big East title game because of a wrist injury, finished with five points on 2-for-12 shooting. The Bluejays don’t have much depth and have a hard time overcoming a bad game by one of their solid starting five.

Xavier: The Musketeers improved to 8-3 since forward Zach Freemantle, the team’s leading rebounder, went out with a season-ending left foot injury. The 6-foot-9 senior ranks third on the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game. The three losses were by a combined four points, including a 69-68 defeat at Marquette.


Creighton: The Bluejays are in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season.

Xavier: The Musketeers split with Marquette this season in games decided by a combined five points.

Marquette’s Kolek, Smart collect AP’s top honors in Big East

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette’s Tyler Kolek is the Associated Press Big East player of the year and Shaka Smart is the unanimous pick for coach of the year after the two led the Golden Eagles’ surprising run to their first regular-season championship in 10 years.

Xavier’s Souley Boum was voted newcomer of the year in balloting by 11 writers and broadcasters who cover the conference.

Kolek and Smart led No. 6 Marquette to a school-record 17 conference wins and its highest national ranking since 1978.

Kolek, a unanimous All-Big East first-team pick along with Providence’s Bryce Hopkins, is among the conference leaders in five categories and is playing some of his best ball of late.

Kolek will enter the Big East Tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden off three straight double-doubles, averaging 20.3 points and 11.3 assists in those games. His 7.9 assists per game for the season leads the Big East and is second nationally.

Smart combined high-scoring offense with aggressive defense to make the Golden Eagles the first team since the Big East formed in 1979-80 to win at least a share of the title after being picked ninth or lower. Marquette beat every league team at least once for the first time since it joined the league in 2005-06.

Hopkins, in his first season at Providence after transferring from Kentucky, has 10 double-doubles and leads the Friars with 16.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Joining Kolek and Hopkins on the first team are Boum and big men Adama Sanogo of Connecticut and Ryan Kalkbrenner of Creighton.

Boum played at San Francisco and UTEP before landing at Xavier this season, and he emerged as the Musketeers’ top player. He’s second in the Big East in scoring with 16.8 points per game and third in 3-point shooting at 42.2%. His 4.5 assists are second on the team and tied for sixth in the league.


u-Guard – Tyler Kolek, Marquette, Jr., 6-3, 190, Cumberland, Rhode Island.

Guard – Souley Boum, Xavier, Gr., 6-3, 175, Oakland, California.

u-Forward – Bryce Hopkins, Providence, So., 6-7, 220, Oak Park, Illinois.

Forward – Adama Sanogo, Connecticut, Jr., 6-9, 245, Bamako, Mali.

Center – Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton, Jr., 7-1, 260, Florissant, Missouri.


Guard – Kam Jones, Marquette, So., 6-4, 195, Memphis, Tennessee.

Guard – Colby Jones, Xavier, Jr., 6-6, 205, Birmingham, Alabama.

Guard – Jordan Hawkins, Connecticut, So., 6-5, 195, Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Forward – Eric Dixon, Villanova, Jr., 6-8 255, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

Center – Joel Soriano, St. John’s, Sr., 6-11, 260, Yonkers, New York.

u-Coach of the year – Shaka Smart, Marquette.

Player of the year – Tyler Kolek, Marquette.

Newcomer of the year – Souley Boum, Xavier.

-“u” denotes unanimous selection.

AP All-Big East Voting Panel: Nick Bahe, Fox Sports; Adam Baum, Cincinnati Enquirer; David Borges, CT Insider (Norwalk, Conn.); Zach Braziller, New York Post; Jerry Carino, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press; John Fanta, Fox Sports; Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star; Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times; Joel Lorenzi, Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald; Kevin McNamara, WPRO (Providence, R.I.); Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

No. 11 Marquette rallies late to edge No. 16 Xavier 69-68

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MILWAUKEE – Marquette moved a step closer to earning its first conference title in a decade by turning a weakness into a strength.


Olivier-Maxence Prosper converted a putback with 1.6 seconds left and No. 11 Marquette edged No. 16 Xavier 69-68 on Wednesday night to extend its slim Big East lead.

After Kam Jones missed his driving layup attempt, Prosper used his right hand to tip in the offensive rebound and put the Golden Eagles back in front.

“I knew if he missed it, that was my rebound,” Prosper said. “I just went as hard as I could. It bounced right. I just went up there and just put it back in. That’s just an effort play.”

Marquette (21-6, 13-3), picked to finish ninth by the league’s coaches in the preseason poll, moved 1 1/2 games ahead of Xavier (19-7, 11-4), No. 24 Providence and No. 18 Creighton.

The Golden Eagles haven’t claimed a conference championship since earning a share of the Big East crown in 2013, also the last year they won an NCAA Tournament game.

Marquette surged into conference title contention despite entering Wednesday with a minus-3.4 rebound margin that ranked 311th out of all Division I teams. In an 80-76 loss at Xavier on Jan. 15, Marquette was outrebounded 45-32.

The Golden Eagles turned that around Wednesday.

“We knew that as long as we were the team that was going to put the most effort out there and just go after it, we were going to get the majority of them,” Prosper said. “It’s about being quicker to the ball. Coach (Shaka Smart) preaches that all the time: Be quicker to the ball.”

Marquette outrebounded Xavier 36-32 and outscored the Musketeers 15-7 in second-chance points. The Golden Eagles had 15 offensive rebounds, including 11 in the second half.

No rebound was bigger than Prosper’s putback in the final seconds. His basket produced the 15th and final lead change of the second half after Jack Nunge’s layup put Xavier ahead 68-67 with 8.3 seconds remaining.

“I thought that last play was the storyline of the entire second half,” Xavier coach Sean Miller said. “We could not get a defensive rebound.”

Xavier’s Jerome Hunter threw a long inbounds pass to Nunge, whose deep 3-point try caromed off the backboard as the buzzer sounded.

Marquette got 17 points and a career-high six steals from Stevie Mitchell. Tyler Kolek scored 15 and Oso Ighodaro added 14. Prosper had seven points, all in the last five minutes.

Souley Boum fought through a sprained ankle to score 24 points for the Musketeers.

Xavier shot 70% in the second half but couldn’t hang onto its 28-24 halftime lead because of its inability to take care of the ball and prevent Marquette’s second-chance opportunities. In the second half, Xavier committed 11 turnovers and attempted 16 fewer shots than Marquette.

The Musketeers led 66-63 and had the ball in the final minute before Boum lost it and Mitchell got a steal, leading to Prosper’s layup with 29.1 seconds remaining. Xavier committed a backcourt turnover on its ensuing possession, as Boum’s pass went off Colby Jones’ body before going out of bounds.

“We just had some inexplicable things happen at the end to us, just turnovers that, as much as I’d like to give our opponent credit for forcing the turnover, I think they were about as surprised as we were,” Miller said. “We just kind of gave it to them a couple of times at the end.”

Ighodaro got fouled and hit two free throws with 22.4 seconds left to put Marquette ahead. Nunge’s layup off a nice pass from Colby Jones put Xavier back in front before Prosper’s clutch tip-in.


Xavier: The Musketeers have lost two straight games by a combined three points. They showed plenty of fortitude by coming as close as they did at far less than full strength. Xavier was playing a fourth straight game without leading rebounder Zach Freemantle due to an injured left foot. Boum was dealing with his injured ankle. The Musketeers also were missing reserve guards Desmond Claude and Kam Craft, who could be out a few weeks with a knee injury.

Marquette: The Golden Eagles won despite shooting 5 of 22 from 3-point range and getting just five points from Kam Jones, who was averaging a team-high 15.2 points per game.


Marquette has a great shot to move back into the top 10 next week.


Xavier: Will host DePaul on Saturday.

Marquette: Plays at No. 18 Creighton next Tuesday.