ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Trevon Bluiett scored 21 points and Sean O’Mara had 18 to help No. 11 seed Xavier upset sixth-seeded Maryland 76-65 during the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
The Musketeers move on in the West region, marking the third straight year they have advanced to the second round. Maryland, which has started three freshmen for much the season, lost in the first round for the first time since 1997.
After a slow start, Bluiett came through with 18 second-half points to help the Musketeers rally from an early 6-point deficit. Bluiett converted seven field goals, including five 3-pointers to energize Xavier.
Freshman Kevin Huerter led the Terps with 19 points while star guard Melo Trimble had 13 points, but made only one-third of his shots.
Xavier took control midway through the second half as Maryland went scoreless for nearly 5 minutes while Xavier pushed its lead to 61-50 with 9:03 left. Bluiett hit three 3-pointers during the 14-0 run.
The Musketeers led by as many as nine points in the first half, but were hurt by turnovers that Maryland used to rally for 12 points. Trimble stole the ball from Quentin Goodin at midcourt and raced for a fast break basket, giving Maryland a 36-35 lead just before halftime.
Despite a sluggish start by Bluiett, the Musketeers managed to build a sizeable lead in the first half. Bluiett missed his first seven shots and didn’t convert his only field goal of the first 20 minutes until he converted a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:52 left to play in the first half. Bluiett was one for eight from the field and one for five from 3-point range, finishing the first half with three points, three rebounds, three steals and three turnovers in 19 minutes.
GODD LUCK ORLANDO
Xavier has won seven straight games in Orlando, which also include two neutral site tournament wins in the Advocare Invitational and Tire Pros Invitational.
BILL MURRAY SIGHTING
Actor Bill Murray was in attendance in support of Xavier. Murray’s son, Luke Murray, is a second-year assistant coach for the Musketeers.
Xavier will play the winner of the Florida Gulf Coast-Florida State game on Saturday at Amway Center.