West Region

Xavier tops Minnesota in NCAA basketball tournament 2010

The road to Indianapolis is paved with dramatic snapshots.
By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 20, 2010

MILWAUKEE -- Xavier has evolved over the years from an NCAA tournament bracket buster to a mainstay, from a small Jesuit school in Cincinnati to a March fixture.

The sixth-seeded Musketeers, making their ninth NCAA tournament appearance in the past 10 years, were up to business as usual in a 65-54 win over No. 11 seed Minnesota on Friday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament's West Region.

Xavier will play No. 3 seed Pittsburgh on Sunday.

"We're tired of being the little engine that could," Xavier Coach Chris Mack said. "We're a really good program, and our kids aren't scared to play anybody."

Aided by the strong backing of their fans and the superb play of guard Jordan Crawford, the Musketeers (25-8) eased past Minnesota (21-14) with a sometimes potent offense and a sharp second-half defensive effort on the three-point-happy Golden Gophers.

Crawford led all scorers with 28 points, 17 in the second half, on 11-for-21 shooting.

"Good players know how to pick and choose their spots," Mack said of Crawford. "He's learned that as the years have gone on."

The game was played against an unusual backdrop for Minnesota after reports surfaced that Tubby Smith was close to becoming the next coach at Auburn. Since arriving three years ago, Smith has led Minnesota to two NCAA tournaments and has humbly gone about rebuilding the program.

"Obviously, that's just talk, because I'm very pleased with what we've accomplished here," Smith said after the game. "I'm pleased with where we are in the program."

Although Crawford made only 4 of 11 shots in the first half, he opened the second half with a flourish, scoring seven of Xavier's first 14 points after halftime.

"I just kept attacking," Crawford said. "My mind-set before the game was to attack from start to finish. Coach made a point not to go into the game just tiptoeing in, go in being aggressive."

-- PITTSBURGH 89, OAKLAND 66: Last year, the Panthers reached the East Region final, matching the deepest NCAA tournament run in program history. Pittsburgh lost four starters from that team.

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