Matta’s Buckeyes battle his former team in NCAA Tournament action
Lexington, KY (Sports Network) – The second round of the NCAA Tournament kicks
off today, with the ninth-seeded Xavier Musketeers taking on the top-seeded
Ohio State Buckeyes in the South Region from Rupp Arena. The winner of this
contest will move on to face either fourth-seeded Virginia or fifth-seeded
Tennessee in the Sweet 16 next week.
The Musketeers earned their spot in this game by pulling off a minor upset of
eighth-seeded BYU, 79-77, in the first round on Thursday. It was the 10th win
in the last 11 games by Xavier, which moved to 25-8 overall. The Musketeers
have been to 17 of the last 25 NCAA Tournaments, posting a 12-17 ledger during
that stretch. The last time Xavier won an opening round game was in 2004, when
it advanced to the Elite Eight under the guidance of head coach Thad Matta.
Following that run and three successful seasons at Xavier, Matta took over as
OSU head coach and he has never looked back. Matta has the Buckeyes as the top-
ranked team in the nation with a school-record 31 wins against just three
losses. Included in one of those victories is a 78-57 trouncing of 16th-seeded
Central Connecticut State in the first round of this tournament on Thursday.
The Big Ten regular season and conference tournament champions have now won 18
straight games while advancing to the second round of the Big Dance for the
19th time in 20 appearances. OSU is 33-18 all-time in this event and that
includes eight Final Four appearances.
The Buckeyes own a 2-1 edge in the all-time series with Xavier, although the
Musketeers won the last meeting, 60-57, in the first round of the 1984 NIT.
Josh Duncan broke a 75-75 tie on a layup with 33 seconds left and Drew Lavender
converted a pair of free throws with 11 seconds to go, as Xavier held off BYU
for a two-point victory on Thursday. Duncan finished the game with just six
points, while Lavender went for 17 points and five assists. Justin Doellman led
the way with 23 points and five boards for Xavier, which made good on 8-of-17
shots from long range and 23-of-29 at the foul line. On the season, the
Musketeers are shooting an efficient 39.2 percent from behind the arc and 74.2
percent at the foul line and that has led them to a solid scoring average of
76.5 ppg. Doellman is the squad’s top scorer (13.7 ppg) and rebounder (5.5 rpg)
and he also has 30 steals to his credit. Stanley Burrell, who was held
scoreless on Thursday, ranks second on the team with 12.7 ppg. Lavender adds
11.4 ppg and a team-high 4.7 apg to the mix, while Justin Cage rounds out the
double-digit scorers with 10.1 ppg.
OSU shot a solid 51.9 percent from the field and knocked down 11-of-20 three
pointers, as it cruised past CCSU in the first round of this tournament on
Thursday. Greg Oden led the charge for the Buckeyes with his 12th double-
double of the season that consisted of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Jamar Butler
added 17 points and five assists, while Ron Lewis chipped in with 13 points. On
the season, Oden has clearly been OSU’s go-to-guy, as the dominating freshman
leads the team in scoring (15.7 ppg) as well as rebounding (9.7 rpg). The Big
Ten Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 3.4 blocks per game
and he is also shooting a scorching 61.4 percent from the floor. Lewis is next
in order with 11.7 ppg, while Daequan Cook and Mike Conley Jr. chip in with
10.6 and 10.3 ppg, respectively. Conley Jr., another talented freshman, also
leads the Buckeyes in assists (6.3 apg) and steals (77). As a team, OSU is
putting forth 73.8 ppg and surrendering just 60.1 ppg.