DAYTON, Ohio — Sophomore guard T.J. Warren scored 25 points and guard Ralston Turner added 17, lifting North Carolina State to a 74-59 victory over Xavier in a first-round NCAA Tournament game between No. 12 seeds on Tuesday night at the University of Dayton Arena.
North Carolina State (22-13) advances to face No. 5 seed Saint Louis at 7:20 p.m. on Thursday in Orlando, Fla.
Xavier (21-13) played the game in a hostile environment, the home arena of its longtime Atlantic 10 Conference nemesis Dayton. The Musketeers dealt with a smattering of boos but also heard from a sizable contingent of Xavier fans who made the 45-minute drive up Interstate 75.
Junior center Matt Stainbrook led Xavier with 19 points and nine rebounds.
Stainbrook’s health was a big concern for Xavier coming in. The junior big man strained a ligament in his left knee during a loss at Seton Hall on March 3. He missed the regular-season finale against Villanova and played sparingly in the Big East Conference opening-round win over Marquette.
Sophomore guard Semaj Christon scored 14 points but also committed seven turnovers for Xavier, which trailed by six points at halftime.
The Musketeers mounted a brief comeback in the second half.
Guard Dee Davis’ 3-pointer and Christon’s layup cut Xavier’s deficit to two points. But behind Warren, NC State always seemed to have an answer.
Three straight baskets by Warren pushed the Wolfpack lead to 49-42. His dunk made the score 57-47 with 7:56 remaining.
The Wolfpack, not considered a 3-point shooting team, hit two of their first five 3-point attempts to grab the early lead.
Freshman guard Anthony Barber’s layup capped a 6-0 run to put North Carolina State ahead 22-14. The Wolfpack led by as many as 10 points in the first half.
The personal competition between Christon and Warren, former classmates at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., was evident throughout the first half. Christon scored eight points and Warren had nine, but both players went into halftime with two fouls.
Xavier committed eight turnovers in the first half and North Carolina State converted those into six points, resulting in a 34-28 halftime lead for the Wolfpack.
NOTES: The teams met for the first time. … Xavier is one of just 13 schools that participated in the NCAA Tournament in eight of the past nine seasons. … North Carolina State reached the NCAA Tournament on the 40th anniversary of the first of its two national championships. … Xavier G Semaj Christon and F Jalen Reynolds and North Carolina State G T.J. Warren were teammates at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. Wolfpack G Patrick Wallace and F Kyle Washington also attended Brewster. … North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried is the third coach in Atlantic Coast Conference history to reach the NCAA Tournament in his first three seasons, joining Roy Williams and Bill Guthridge.
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