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Wildcats Two Wins From NCAA Final Four

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A big story two seasons ago between these teams was the disappointing performance of freshman Trevon Bluiett, who was a complete non-factor as X was knocked out.

But Arizona missed its last six field-goal attempts, Bernard made a 3-pointer and two free throws to creep close and Bluiett tied the game on two free throws with 1:54 left.

"I opted to go with a little bit quicker play, and that one worked for us earlier in the game", Mack said.

Miller will face Xavier for a second time in NCAA postseason play since leaving the Musketeers for the Wildcats after the 2008-2009 season.

Mack implored his players to "not try to get it all back in one or two possessions".

"I'm disappointed", Markkanen said. Numerous current players were key pieces of last season's No. 2-seeded team; a group that entered 2016-17 ranked seventh in the Associated Press preseason poll.

Bluiett scored 18 of his 25 points in the first half to help Xavier keep up with the athletic Wildcats. Xavier has reached the Elite Eight but never a Final Four.

Moving forward, Macura and company will look to continue their improbable run to the Final Four against No. 2 seed Arizona.

"When they had the opportunity to take a shot or make one, they made them", Miller said after the loss. Against Notre Dame, West Virginia shot 57% from behind the arc which is 20 percentage points higher than what they usually shoot. Gonzaga looked shaky the first weekend, but I think they have the talent and obviously, the height to get to this position.

Mack's influence on the game went much further than just his defensive strategy. Malcolm Bernard and RaShid Gaston are living out their dreams that inspired them to leave their former schools, where they were stars, for the opportunity to play a role on a team with a legit chance at making a run in the NCAA Tournament.

Trier, who missed 19 games before returning in January, leads the team in scoring with 17.1 points per game and 5.1 rebounds per game. The Musketeers tracked Arizona after it tried to pull away in the second half, getting a late basket inside by Sean O'Mara while shutting down one of the nation's best offensive teams down the stretch.

Miller was a feisty point guard at Pittsburgh who could shoot and understood the game like few college players can.

Arizona shot 43.5 percent and had a 35-27 rebounding edge. His first make of the second stanza but Xavier up 61-57 at the time.

The Musketeers are the only double-digit seed left in the tournament — SC and MI are the next-highest at No. 7. Bernard picks his spots offensively and has scored six points in each contest while hitting 4 of 7 from the floor. The bonus would have kicked in if the Wildcats had reached the Final Four.

Guard Edmond Sumner's season-ending injury and Bluiett's nagging maladies had contributed to a listless month, but so what?

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