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NCAA Tournament - Xavier swats away Kennesaw State’s upset bid

Yahoo Sports college basketball writer Nick Bromberg recaps the 3-seed Muskateers’ first round victory in the Midwest region, holding off the 14-seed Owls thanks to a block by Jack Nunge in the final seconds.

Video transcript

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NICK BROMBERG: Jack Nunge saved Xavier from being the first major upset of the day on Friday. The Xavier center came off his man and blocked Terrell Burden's potential game-winning layup with 5 seconds to go to preserve a 72-67 comeback win over Kennesaw State in the Midwest region.

Kennesaw State led for much of the game and extended its margin to 13 points at multiple points in the second half. But much like Arizona the day before in its loss to Princeton, Kennesaw State went cold in the second half. The Owls scored just 6 points over the final 9:56, as Xavier went on a 15-to-0 run to turn a 61-48 Kennesaw State lead into a 63-61 Xavier lead with just over 4 minutes to go.

Nunge finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Xavier's Jerome Hunter led all scorers with 24. If the Musketeers win on Sunday, the school will be back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2017 in former Arizona Coach Sean Miller's first season back with the school. Miller, as you likely know, was fired by Arizona in April of 2021 because of NCAA violations stemming from the FBI's investigation into college basketball.

Xavier's win also means there are just nine perfect brackets remaining in Yahoo's Tourney Pick'em through the first 18 games of the men's tournament. Had Kennesaw State won, just one Yahoo user would have gotten all of the first 18 games right.