Xavier is making a habit of reaching the round of 16.
Senior center Kenny Frease scored a career-high 25 points to go with 12 rebounds, and the Musketeers knocked off upset-minded Lehigh 70-58 on Sunday night in the NCAA Tournament.
As a result, Xavier is in the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in five years. The tenth-seeded Musketeers will play No. 3 seed Baylor on Friday in Atlanta.
Lehigh, which stunned No. 2 seed Duke on Friday, was looking to become the first No. 15 seed to make it to the tournament’s second weekend. But the 7-foot Frease stood in the way.
He dominated in the paint, hitting 11 of 13 shots, helping Xavier overcome a first-half 15-point deficit.
Tu Holloway was his normal productive self. He scored 21 points, 15 in the second half for Xavier, 22-12.
Mackey McKnight had 20 points for Lehigh, 27-7, which tied a Patriot League record for wins in a season.
But Xavier held C.J. McCollum, the nation’s fifth-leading scorer, to just 14 points on five-of-22 shooting. McCollum had scored 30 points in the upset over Duke on Friday.
Lehigh started strong, opening a 35-20 lead behind 53 percent shooting and 14 first-half points from McKnight.
But Xavier clawed back to cut the lead to 37-33 at halftime behind a three-point buzzer-beater by Holloway.
And then Lehigh went cold. The Mountain Hawks went more than 7 minutes without a field goal to start the second half — missing their first 10 shots from the field – and the Musketeers took advantage by going on a 14-3 spurt to take a 47-40 lead.
The Mountain Hawks fought back again, however, tying the game at 52. But Xavier took over for good, closing with an 18-6 run.