SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Xavier upset second-seeded Arizona 73-71 in Thursday’s Sweet 16 game.
The No. 11 team now advances to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2008.
Xavier (30-13) stayed with the Wildcats behind Bluiett’s 18 first-half points and tracked down the Wildcats after they tried to pull away in the second half. O’Mara scored on a power move inside, but missed a free throw to give Arizona (32-5) a final chance.
Allonzo Trier missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds and Xavier was able to dribble out the clock, earning its first trip to the Elite Eight since 2008.
The Musketeers held Arizona scoreless over the final 2:52 to earn a sport in the West final against No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Saturday.
Trier scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half and Dusan Ristic had 17 for Arizona.
Xavier made an improbable run to its fourth Sweet 16 in eight years under (Chris) Mack, overcoming a late six-game losing streak and slew of injuries that included the loss of point guard Edmond Sumner to a torn left ACL in late January. The Musketeers were the lone double-digit seed left in the bracket after knocking off Maryland and Florida State in the first two rounds, setting up their second Sweet 16 game against Arizona in three years.
Arizona won the previous meeting to reach the Elite Eight, putting coach Sean Miller one up on Mack, his former assistant.
Bluiett kept the Musketeers in San Jose, hitting 7 of 8 shots and both of his free throws to score 18 points in the first half.
Arizona led 37-35 after turning 11 offensive rebounds into 13 second-chance points.
Xavier came out hot to start the second half, making 6 of its 8 shots to build a 48-45 lead. Arizona answered with a run of its own and Trier started lighting it up, scoring 15 straight points as Arizona built a 67-61 lead.
With super fan Bill Murray cheering them on – his son is an assistant coach – the Musketeers battled their way back with a 7-0 run, tying the game at 71-all with just under two minutes left.
The Musketeers will take on No. 1 seed Gonzaga Saturday in the next round.