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Writer: Stewart Mandel
Post time: 3:36, Thursday
WASHINGTON D.C. -- Stanley Burrell has played every role imaginable -- three-point bomber, defensive stopper, fill-in point guard -- during his four-year career at Xavier. Thursday, he added a new role to his resume: Cinderella-squelcher.
The Musketeers overcame an 11-point deficit and avoided a potentially devastating first-round exit at the hands of upstart Georgia, thanks in large part to a game-changing sequence beginning around the nine-minute mark of the second half in which Burrell was the orchestrator.
With point guard Drew Lavender on the bench and Xavier down 49-44, Burrell took over as floor general. Within minutes, he made a steal, raced up court and fed a no-look pass to a trailing Derrick Brown for a dunk; worked the ball around to shooting guard B.J. Raymond for a game-tying three-pointer from the corner and led another fast break that resulted in a Dante Jackson trey to go up 52-49.
Xavier never trailed again, distancing itself with a 23-5 run and finally pulling away for good in the final minute to win 73-61. Burrell finished with just three points, yet was arguably the Muskies' most valuable player.
"My role is to come out and give my team some energy," he said. "I set the tone, and the guys follow me. They started diving on the floor, getting out in transition. I'm just so proud of my team."
Over the last few minutes, each time a Xavier player went to the free-throw line, an intense Burrell could be seen hanging back at half court, clapping after each make and shouting encouragement to his teammates. And when the final horn sounded, he skipped around the court like a happy schoolboy, tugging at his jersey in obvious excitement -- not to mention relief.
"We weren't going to go out like that," Burrell said. "I've got at least another game."