GREENSBORO — Xavier is making a habit of reaching the round of 16.
Senior center Kenny Frease scored a career-high 25 points to go with 12 rebounds, and the Musketeers knocked off upset-minded Lehigh 70-58 Sunday night to advance to the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five years.
Lehigh, which stunned No. 2 seed Duke on Friday, was looking to become the first 15 seed to make it to the tournament’s second weekend. But the 7-foot Frease stood in the way.
He dominated in the paint, hitting 11 of 13 shots, and Tu Holloway was his normal productive self with 21 points as 10th-seeded Xavier (22-12) moved on to play No. 3 seed Baylor on Friday in the South Regional at Atlanta.
The Musketeers held C.J. McCollum, the nation’s fifth-leading scorer, to 14 points on 5-of-22 shooting and overcame a 15-point first-half deficit.
Mackey McKnight had 20 points for Lehigh (27-7), which tied a Patriot League record for wins in a season.
The Musketeers won despite playing most of the game without their third-leading scorer, Dezmine Wells. He injured his right ankle in the first half and did not return.
The Mountain Hawks started strong, opening a 35-20 lead behind 53 percent shooting and 14 first-half points from McKnight. Xavier clawed back to cut the lead to 37-33 at halftime behind a 3-point buzzer-beater by Holloway.
The Mountain Hawks went more than seven minutes without a field goal to start the second half — missing their first 10 shots from the field — and the Musketeers took advantage by going on a 14-3 spurt to take a 47-40 lead.
The Mountain Hawks fought back again, however, tying the game at 52. That’s when Xavier took over for good, closing with an 18-6 run.
Holloway, who had to change his jersey number in the second half from 52 to 24 after getting blood on it, led the charge. He hit a 3-pointer with 6:58 remaining to give the Musketeers a 55-52 lead they never relinquished.
Holloway scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half. That came two nights after he scored 17 of his 25 after halftime in a win over Notre Dame.
Lehigh simply couldn’t make a shot in the second half, going more than 6 minutes down the stretch without a basket.
The Mountain Hawks shot 5 of 34 (14.7 percent) from the field in the second half.