GREENSBORO, N.C -- Terrell Burden got a shoulder past his defender and pushed into the paint, locking in on the rim for a chance to move Kennesaw State within reach of its first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
Instead, Xavier's Jack Nunge descended on him to make the play that capped the Musketeers' late defensive surge -- and saved their season.
Nunge blocked Burden's driving attempt at a go-ahead layup in the final seconds, and Xavier dug out of a 13-point hole against surprising Kennesaw State to escape with a 72-67 victory in Friday's first round.
The 7-footer's block was part of the reason the Owls shot 2-for-15 over the final 9 1/2 minutes, reversing the momentum in a game that had often left third-seeded Xavier (26-9) looking befuddled.
"We didn't really change much, and that's oftentimes the story," said Coach Sean Miller, back for his second stint with the Musketeers. "We just did what we do better."
Souley Boum hit four clinching free throws in the final 2.6 seconds for the Musketeers, who ran off 15 unanswered points as part of a game-ending 24-6 run. That was enough to turn away the 14th-seeded Owls (26-9) in the program's first-ever March Madness game.
Xavier moves on to face Pittsburgh on Sunday in the Midwest Region.
Xavier led 68-67 when Burden -- who'd been successful all day with dribble penetration -- made his move into the paint. But Nunge rotated over and swatted the ball into the backboard.
"In the timeout, we were supposed to switch everything," Nunge said, adding: "He's a really good driver at getting to the rim and I just came over and blocked it."
Burden said everything with the play ran as designed until Nunge's arrival.
"It was a great play by him to meet me at the rim," Burden said.
The ball eventually made its way to Boum, who hit two free throws with 2.6 seconds left for a 70-67 lead. The Owls had a chance to set up a three-pointer for the tie, but that desperate play ended when Spencer Rodgers' right foot landed on the sideline as he caught the inbound pass.
Jerome Hunter scored a career-best 24 points to lead the Musketeers, while Boum had 17. Nunge had 10 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
Burden and Chris Youngblood each scored 14 points to lead Kennesaw State.
MIAMI 63, DRAKE 56
ALBANY, N.J. -- Nijel Pack scored 21 points -- including the go-ahead jumper and a pair of free throws in the final minute -- to rally No. 5 seeded Miami past Drake.
The Hurricanes (26-7) scored the final 10 points in just barely getting past 12th-seeded Drake just a year after reaching the Elite Eight.
Former Arkansas State player Norchad Omier added 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Hurricanes, who won despite being held to a season-low 63 points. Wooga Poplar had 15 points.
Darnell Brodie had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Drake (27-8). The Missouri Valley Conference tournament champions were outscored 16-1 over the final 4:29 and 10-0 in the last 2:28. The Bulldogs missed their last seven shots from the floor and were scoreless the final 3:24.
IOWA STATE 41
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Nelly Cummings scored 13 points and No. 11 seed Pittsburgh (24-11) held sixth-seeded Iowa State to 23% shooting.
Jamarius Burton added 11 points and Greg Elliott had 10 for Coach Jeff Capel's Panthers, who stormed to a 22-2 lead after Iowa State missed its first 11 shots. Things didn't get much better for the Cyclones, who had three stretches in which they missed at least eight consecutive shots.
Gabe Kalscheur and Jaren Holmes each had 12 points for Iowa State (19-14).
INDIANA 71, KENT STATE 60
ALBANY, N.Y. — Trayce Jackson-Davis did it all with 24 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocked shots and 5 assists as Indiana defeated 13th-seed Kent State.
The fourth-seeded Hoosiers (23-11) advanced to play fifth-seeded Miami on Sunday.
Jackson-Davis became the first player since blocks became an official NCAA statistic in 1985-86 to have at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 5 assists in an NCAA Tournament game, according to OptaSTATS.
The Mid-American Conference champs from Kent State couldn’t muster any such magic, shooting 32% from the floor. Sincere Carry scored 15 points to lead the Golden Flashes (28-7).