Xavier rallies past fading Georgia

WASHINGTON - Xavier took full advantage of a Georgia team that was, well, 'Dawg tired.

Led by Derrick Brown's 19 points and 11 rebounds, and super-sub Josh Duncan's 20 points, No. 3-seeded Xavier erased a double-digit deficit against fading Georgia to win 73-61 Thursday in a first-round West Regional game.

Georgia's players, who made a remarkable run to the Southeastern Conference tournament title by winning three games in about 30 hours, insisted they weren't exhausted. Indeed, they put more of the blame on a significant discrepancy in free throws: Xavier went 27-for-33 from the line, while Georgia was 3-for-5.

But, as Xavier point guard Drew Lavender put it: 'Fatigue finally caught them.'

The Musketeers (28-6) trailed by 11 in the second half but conjured up a 22-6 run to come back and tie the school record for victories in a season.

'You can't help but think it was to our advantage, what they just went through,' Xavier coach Sean Miller said. 'The longer the game went on, the more we were able to wear them down. And I think we all know part of that reason was the energy they had to use this past weekend.

In the end, Georgia (17-17) simply could not sustain the energy and effort it summoned during last week's remarkable run to the SEC tournament title. The Bulldogs were 13-16 before the conference tourney, yet somehow won four games in as many days - including two in a single day! - to save coach Dennis Felton's job and extend their season.

As Xavier turned up its defensive intensity down the stretch, Georgia's do-everything guard Sundiata Gaines acknowledged, 'I kind of felt our offense got stagnant. We weren't moving and executing as well as we normally do.'

And so Xavier was able to take command and advance to a second-round game against No. 6-seeded Purdue, which beat No. 11 Baylor 90-79.