What a night.
For the first time since 2008, the Xavier Musketeers are going to the Elite Eight.
They got there by beating, oddly enough, Sean Miller, the coach that took them to the Elite Eight in 2008, and the Arizona Wildcats by a 73-71 margin.
Trevon Bluiett came out like a man possessed in the first half, hitting his first seven shots for 17 points. Bluiett had a similar game a couple months back in Xavier’s loss to Cincinnati, when he opened the game with eight straight makes. In that game, Cincy got him under control in the second half, and no one was able to step up, leading to an Xavier loss.
In Thursday’s win over Arizona, the Wildcats were able to get Bluiett under control in the second half (seven points on 2-9 shooting). The difference, though? Malcolm Bernard and JP Macura came to play.
Bernard scored all 15 of his points in the second half, nine of which came from beyond the arc. The third of his threes in the half came at the most crucial point. Down 71-64 with 2:30 to play, the Musketeers were in drastic need of a bucket. Bernard answered with the three to cut the lead to four. On the next trip down the court, Bernard drew a foul after a Macura miss and connect on both free throws to trim the Arizona lead to two.
Fast forward to the last 10 seconds. Sean O’Mara missed the front end of a one-and-one to give Arizona the ball down 73-71. Allonzo Trier just missed a three, and Bernard grabbed the rebound and zoomed upcourt without allowed Arizona to foul him to seal Xavier’s upset victory.
Chris Mack and company will look to get to the first Final Four in school history on Saturday night as they match up with the Gonzaga Bulldogs, another school who has never made a Final Four.
If this Musketeers team has taught us anything, it’s that we have no idea how that game will unfold.