ATLANTA (AP) — Quincy Acy picked up the slack for his roommate to help push Baylor to another regional final.
The 6-foot-7 senior had a double-double on an off night for the sharpshooting Brady Heslip as the Bears moved their attack inside to beat Xavier 75-70 Friday.
“I think I got a little of that magic from him,” Acy said.
The Baylor post players were not double-teamed most of the game and Acy took advantage of it to the tune of 20 points and 15 rebounds, Perry Jones III added 14 points for Baylor, which advanced to the its second regional final in three years.
“You stay with Brady, that means we’re one-on-one down in the post, and you see what happens,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew.
Heslip, coming off his career-high 27 points on nine 3-pointers in Baylor’s second-round win over Colorado, made only one against Xavier. He finished with 11 points.
But Acy had his back, throwing down several dunks and added a few jump shots that surprised Xavier coach Chris Mack.
“He’s a cage-rattler,” said Mack of Acy. “We knew that. … I never saw him hit a 15-foot jump shot, and he does that in the first four minutes of the game.”
Acy made 8 of 11 shots from the field and each of his four free throws, including two with 31 seconds remaining after Xavier cut the Bears’ lead to six points.
Acy, Baylor’s only starting senior, has his second chance to help the Bears win a regional final. Baylor also won three NCAA tournament games in 2010 before losing to eventual national champion Duke.
The Bears will play the winner of the Kentucky-Indiana showdown in the South Regional final.
“We’re just looking forward to go a little farther and make a little history,” Acy said.
Drew said it never gets old watching Acy play.
“Baylor fans have been blessed, the nation’s been blessed, and he is a better person than a player,” Drew said.
Baylor, wearing bright neon-green uniforms, led by 18 points less than 8 minutes into the game.
Xavier played from behind all night, but never quit. The Musketeers cut the lead to just three, 71-68, with 22 seconds remaining.
“Down the stretch there, we made it a little closer than it needed to be with some careless turnovers, but credit them for not giving up and fighting through,” Drew said of Xavier.
Pierre Jackson had 16 and 10 assists for Baylor.
Tu Holloway led Xavier with 22 points.
Xavier was hurt by poor shooting, especially from beyond the arc. The Musketeers were 0-for-11 on 3-pointers before Justin Martin ended the drought with 2 minutes remaining. He added another 3 40 seconds later, and Holloway’s 3 with 22 seconds remaining cut the lead the 71-68.
Heslip’s four free throws in the final 17 seconds protected the lead.
Xavier (23-13) couldn’t advance after making the round of 16 for the fourth time in five years.
Kenny Frease had 18 points and Mark Lyons had 16 for the Musketeers.
With Xavier stretching its defense and Baylor working the clock, Jackson sank a 3-pointer with 2:50 remaining to give the Bears their biggest lead of the half at 65-54. Following a missed free throw by Lyons, Acy’s basket pushed the lead to 13 points — too much for the Musketeers to overcome.
Heslip surprised the Musketeers by scoring on two drives to the basket in the opening minutes. Heslip added a 3-pointer before a jumper by Quincy Miller stretched Baylor’s lead to 22-4.
Xavier needed 10 minutes to reach double figures, but a flagrant one foul by Acy on Frease helped the Musketeers recover from their slow start.
Acy, who scored a combined 11 points in the Bears’ first two wins in the tournament, knocked Frease to the floor when he hit the 7-foot center from behind with 5:08 remaining in the half. The officials reviewed a video replay before ruling on the severity of the foul.
Frease made both free throws and then scored a few seconds later as Xavier retained possession. It was the start of 13 unanswered points as Xavier cut Baylor’s lead from 33-16 to 33-29.
“It was definitely a turning point,” Frease said. “That definitely was a boost.
“I think we sort of woke up on the defensive end, too. We were able to make a really good run.”
The Musketeers had too far to climb.
“Unfortunately, when you get down that much to a team like Baylor, a lot of times you’re not going to be able to come out of it, and today we couldn’t,” Frease said.
Jackson ended the run with a 3-pointer to give the Bears a 36-29 halftime lead.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)