TERRANCE HARRIS, Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Trevon Bluiett scored 29 points and Kaiser Gates came off the bench to contribute 14 as the 11 seed Xavier pulled off its second upset of the NCAA Tournament with a 91-66 victory over third-seeded Florida State during Saturday’s second round.
The Musketeers (23-13) advance to the West Region semifinal marking the second time in two years and the eighth time in program history they have made it to the Sweet 16. The Seminoles, the ACC runners-up, end their season at 26-9.
Florida State was the bigger program from a power conference, but Xavier came in as a tournament tested team and it showed. The Musketeers dominated the bigger and more athletic Seminoles inside and then put the game out of reach with their superior 3-point shooting.
Xavier shot nearly 65 percent from 3-point range, converting 11 of 17 from long range, while the Seminoles made just four of 21 3-point attempts for the game. The Seminoles, who figured to have the size advantage inside with 7-foot-1 Michael Ojo and 7-foot-4 Christ Koumadje protecting the rim, were outscored in the paint 36-26.
Xavier, which defeated No. 6 Maryland in the first round, shot 55.6 from the field for the game and led by as many as 25 points late in the second half.
Dwayne Bacon led the Seminoles with 20 points.
DOMINANT FIRST HALF
After leading by as many as 15 points in the first half, Xavier went into halftime with a 44-34 lead over the Seminoles.
The Musketeers knocked down five 3-pointers during the first half compared to just one by FSU, but the biggest difference was their success inside against a much taller opponent. Xavier outscored FSU 20-16 in the paint with Sean O’Mara coming off the bench to contribute nine points on 2-of-2 shooting inside while also converting 5 of 5 free throws. Xavier also got slashing baskets from Bluiett and J.P. Macura during the first 20 minutes.
The Seminoles didn’t get the production they expected from their bigs during the first half. Ojo didn’t take a shot with two rebounds and no blocks and Koumadje had no points and no blocks during the first 20 minutes. Florida State, which had a considerable size advantage inside, didn’t a block shot in the first half.
Xavier will take on the winner of Saint Mary’s-Arizona game in the regional semifinals in the West.
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