Xavier's Kenny Frease was a power of strength in the lane and Lehigh couldn't match up with the 7-foot, 275-pounder in a third-round game of the NCAA Tournament's South Region on Sunday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Frease, a senior, scored a career-high 25 points as the Musketeers overcame Lehigh 70-58.
Tenth-seeded Xavier (23-12) is in the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in the last five seasons, reserving a spot against Baylor on Friday night in Atlanta.
The Cinderella story ended for 15th-seeded Lehigh (27-8), which never trailed in the first half. The outcome marked the end to its season-best nine-game winning streak.
Xavier broke a 52-52 tie on a Tu Holloway 3-pointer followed by a Frease basket off a rebound. Andre Walker's bucket pushed the lead to 60-52.
"My guards put me in great position," Frease said. "I wouldn't have been able to score if it wasn't for those guys putting me in good positions and finding me at the right time. It made my job pretty easy. All I had to do was turn and finish."
Holloway scored 21 points as Xavier closed the game on an 18-6 spurt.
Frease, who also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, entered the game averaging 9.5 points per game this season. He shot 11 of 13 from the field, while the rest of the Xavier team combined to go 13 of 41.
"When we get the ball into the paint via post feeds, via drives, via offensive rebounds and we get to the free-throw line, that's when we're at our best," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.
NOTES, QUOTESXavier's late rally trumps Notre Dame
Xavier scored the last seven points of the game -- all in the final 45 seconds -- to defeat Notre Dame 67-63 in the NCAA Tournament's South Region on Friday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
A free throw violation on the seventh-seeded Irish when they were poised to tie the game with 2.8 seconds to play created a bizarre finish as 10th-seeded Xavier advanced.
Tu Holloway scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half for the Musketeers, who rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit.
--Xavier earned a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament, its lowest since being a No. 14 seed in 2006 and losing to Gonzaga in the first round. The Musketeers have been no worse than a No. 6 seed the past four seasons. XU was a No. 6 seed when it lost to Marquette in last year's first round.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're a program that's been there so many times. But you can't have a sense of entitlement when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. It's hard to get in. We are very fortunate. Being a part of March Madness is what you shoot for from the start of the year." -- Xavier coach Chris Mack on the Musketeers' seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNELSCOUTING REPORT: Senior G Tu Holloway was on just about everyone's Player of the Year preseason watch list. Holloway's stardom reached its peak when he helped spark come-from-behind victories over Vanderbilt and Purdue. But in the fallout from the brawl with Cincinnati, for which Holloway received a one-game suspension, things changed for Holloway and Xavier.
Holloway remains the Musketeers' unabashed star, but there have been times the past couple months that he has seemed content being more of a point guard and distributor than a pure scorer. Junior G Mark Lyons brings intensity, and freshman Dezmine Wells has dazzled with his high-flying dunks. But the Musketeers' escape from the NCAA bubble can largely be attributed to the emergence of 7-foot senior C Kenny Frease, who averaged 10.1 points and 4.6 boards in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
FUTURES WATCH: Rumors that junior G Mark Lyons might transfer are unsubstantiated, but with a strong recruiting class incoming there could be some defections among some Xavier players who expect decreased playing time. The Musketeers' recruiting class for next year has been ranked in the top 20 by some outlets. Guards Semaj Christon and Myles Davis, and forwards James Farr and Jalen Reynolds could contribute immediately.
REGULAR SEASON REVIEW: Xavier began the season 8-0 and ranked in the top 10 in both major polls. But an ugly brawl with 9.4 seconds remaining in a 76-53 win over crosstown rival Cincinnati sent the Musketeers' season into a tailspin. Four players were suspended for their roles in the fight and Xavier lost five of its next six games. Despite missing key opportunities for quality wins over Gonzaga, Memphis and Temple, the Musketeers managed to advance to the Atlantic 10 Conference finals. That run, coupled with a strong non-conference schedule and computer rating, was enough to earn them a seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
--G Tu Holloway moved into sixth place in career scoring at Xavier against Lehigh with 1,811 points.
--In Sunday's game against Lehigh, C Kenny Frease, a senior center, moved within one game of tying the school record for games played with 136.