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Kennesaw State blows lead, Xavier avoids upset to advance

The Owls couldn’t hold onto a 13-point second half lead and will not advance.

Kennesaw State Owls guard Kasen Jennings shoots the ball over Xavier Musketeers forward Jack Nunge during the second half at Greensboro Coliseum. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 14 Kennesaw State Owls blew a major second-half lead and fell to the No. 3 Xavier Musketeers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 72-67. The Owls led by as many as 13 points, but they went cold on shooting in the latter part of the second half, missing 12 shots in a row at one point.

The Musketeers avoided an upset that appeared inevitable at some points in the game. They will advance to face the winner of Iowa State vs. Pittsburgh in the second round. Jerome Hunter led Xavier with 24 points. Jack Nunge added 11 rebounds and a massive block in the final seconds of the game to preserve the Musketeers’ lead.

Kennesaw State’s Chris Youngblood fouled out in the final minute. He ended with 14 points for the Owls.