GREENSBORO, NC — Jack Nunge scored 18 points, Adam Kunkel added 15 on five 3-pointers in the first half, and No. 3 Xavier beat 11th-ranked Pittsburgh 84-73 on Sunday to equal his first Sweet 16 since 2017.
Colby Jones had 10 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, and Souley Boum and Jerome Hunter each contributed 14 points as all five Xavier starters scored in double digits.
Xavier distributed the ball particularly early with 17 assists to 19 baskets in the first half and extended a 48:34 lead at the break. The Musketeers finished with 22 assists.
Xavier (27-9) plays No. 2 seed Texas in Friday’s Midwest Region semifinals in Kansas City, Missouri.
Blake Hinson had 18 points and Jamarius Burton had 16 for Pitt (24-12).
Nunge set the tone early, dominating with eight points in the first 10 minutes while Jones knocked down two 3s as the Musketeers built a 28-18 lead.
PHOTOS: Xavier beats Pitt 84-73, reaches 1st Sweet 16 since 2017
The Musketeers then blew up the game with a 12-2 run behind Kunkel, who made two 3s and threw an alley-oop dunk to Nunge. Kunkel followed up with his fifth 3 of the first half to give Xavier a 19-point lead by 1:26.
Nunge recorded his fourth foul at 9:35 in the game and Xavier led by 18, a game that ended with Pitt coach Jeff Capel being hit with a technical foul, leading him to bark at the officials. Pitt guard Greg Elliott stepped in front of his trainer and attempted to box him at the scorer’s table to stop him from getting a second tech.
The Musketeers managed well without Nunge and extended their lead to 20, leaving 7:22 on a knight from Boum.
Nunge returned but was fouled with 3:18 left and Xavier with 14 left.
Burton cut the lead to 10 with one-and-one from a drive through an unprotected lane. Elliott’s 3-pointers with 1:45 remaining cut Xavier’s lead to eight, but the Panthers didn’t get any closer.
Pitt: The Panthers won their first two NCAA tournament games since 2014, beating Mississippi State in the First Four and throttling No. 6 State Iowa in the first round. After holding the Cyclones to 41 points on Friday, Pitt allowed Xavier to score 42 points in the first 15 minutes. It didn’t help that big man Federiko Federiko played less than a minute due to knee problems.
Xavier: Sean Miller steered the Musketeers in the right direction in the first season of his second stint as coach. After coming back from 13 in the second half to beat 14-seeded Kennesaw State, the Musketeers left this game in no doubt and came out focused and ready to play.
Xavier meets a Longhorns team that has won six games in a row.
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