Writer: Elizabeth McGarr
Post Time: Thursday, 11:31 p.m.
When the Xavier band gave out with the student section's traditional "Father Graham" chant with 1:51 to play in the Musketeers' 79-75 overtime win over West Virginia, the president of the university, Rev. Michael Graham, stood on his seat and began waving a blue towel. "I don't usually [stand on a chair]," he said after the win. "It just seemed like the thing to do. And then somebody said, ‘B.J. [Raymond] hit two three-point shots after that,' so I don't if there's any connection." He laughed, then added, "I kind of doubt it."
Besides Rev. Graham and the two sections representing No. 3 seed Xavier and No. 7 seed West Virginia, the UCLA-heavy crowd at the U.S. Airways Center was decidedly subdued during Game 1. Coming out of the tunnel for the second half, most of the Xavier players bumped fists with a kid hanging over the railing who happened to be wearing a Western Kentucky shirt. Surely after their close call against West Virginia, the Musketeers will be rooting for the Hilltoppers to make a dent in their 21-point halftime deficit to No. 1 seed UCLA.
On the way to the locker room after the win, Xavier forward Derrick Brown shouted, "Elite Eight, baby! Yeah!" before joining his cheering (and dancing) teammates. Down the hall, a teary-eyed Da'Sean Butler, who scored 16 points in 36 minutes for the Mountaineers, received a consolation hug from coach Bob Huggins before pulling his jersey over his face.
Butler was West Virginia's second-leading scorer behind forward Joe Alexander, who finished the night with 18 points after scoring three in the first half. All the spaghetti and grilled chicken Alexander ate to gain weight weren't doing the trick against Xavier forward Jason Love. "My whole summer was spent lifting and eating," says Alexander, who put on 25 pounds in 75 days. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Alexander went 1-4 from the field in the first half against the 6-9, 255-pound Love. During the second half, Alexander shot fifty percent from the field, taking 14 more shots than he did in the first half, most of them mid-range to short-range jumpers. He just didn't make enough of them before he fouled out with 4:30 remaining in overtime.