By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
ORLANDO - The NCAA Tournament is the time for stars to shine.
Players often make reputations by taking over a game and carrying their team in March.
Romain Sato is Xavier's player most capable of doing that.
In the Muskies' 80-70 first-round victory over Louisville Friday night, Sato showed you can be a force without forcing it.
"That's something Romain has learned this year," Xavier coach Thad Matta said. "We call it aggressive patience."
Call it what you want, Sato was pretty good.
The 6-foot-5 senior from the Central African Republic scored 24 points, pulled down eight rebounds and had two assists.
Sato took only 11 shots but he made five, all from 3-point range.
"That's the kind of player he is," freshman Justin Doellman said. "He let the game come to him. We got him some open shots and he was hitting them."
Sato did not get a shot off until 11:12 remained in the first half. That was a tribute to Louisville's defense and Sato's patience.
"Things weren't going well for him early," Matta said. "But he kept working. He kept moving."
When Sato finally got a shot, it was a long 3 over Alhaji Mohammed.
On the next possession, Xavier ran a play for Sato. Francisco Garcia fouled him trying to deny him the ball.
After the call, Garcia backed off enough for Sato to hit another 3 two minutes later. That cut the U of L lead to 18-17.
Louisville then went on a 12-0 run to go up 30-17. The run was fueled partly by Sato's decision to force the action.
He drove the lane and threw up a wild shot on one possession and forced a 3 on the next.
But Sato kept working. He drove to the hoop and had his shot blocked, but rebounded the miss and was fouled.
He hit one of the two free throws to end a five-minute Xavier scoring drought.
Sato would not get another shot in the half. But he did hit four free throws in the last 1:22. On both occasions, he went to the line after Louisville fouled him trying to deny him the ball.
"He such a strong rebounder that's he's going to get to the line," Matta said.
Sato finished the half with 11 points on 2-for-6 shooting.
The second half started the same way as the first. He did not take a shot in the first 51/2 minutes.
But, again, that was a tribute to his patience as much as U of L's defense.
But without Sato involved Louisville was taking control of the game. The Cardinals pushed the lead to 53-40.
Sato finally got the ball 10 feet from the basket, but he was surrounded by four U of L players. He calmly kicked it out to Lionel Chalmers, who hit a 3.
The next time down the court, Sato stayed outside. Chalmers penetrated and kicked it out to Sato, who hit a 3 to cut the lead to 53-48.
NCAA TOURNAMENT (Special section)
XU: Musketeers fight back to advance
Patient Sato picks his spots, hits his shots
UC: Bobbitt hits game-winner
Daugherty: Little guy not so little in Tourney
ETSU's Smith plays big
Hicks gets job done as Bearcats' stealth sub
UK: 'Cats pull away in 2nd half to win
Hayes just misses triple-double
Murray St. gets taste of Illini's Big Ten
Cowboys get Sutton's angry halftime message
Wolfpack uses defense to subdue Ragin' Cajuns
Pacific waves goodbye to 5th seed Providence
Maryland sets sights on 'Cuse's sharpshooter
Calhoun could do without matchup
NCAA Tournament at a glance
It's not exactly home, but it's close for the Buckeyes
Tournament chase is all about class
Team by team in the women's field
WNIT: Scoring drought ends MU's season
Victory sends Wilmington to title game
REDS / BASEBALL
Reds pitcher lost for season
2003 Reds finances may have finished in the black
Inside Reds camp
Lidle in Opening Day hunt
Aching Nixon, Garciaparra out of action for Red Sox
BENGALS / NFL
Bengals, Sapp close in on deal
It's official: Keyshawn, Parcells reunited
MND plays nation's top-ranked team for state title
C-J storms into Division I title game
Colonels discover that the 3 is king
Royals win one for the ages
Mason Co. pushed to the 3-OT brink
Prep sports results, schedules
Silver Minister, Bejarano aim to play spoiler
MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
Maruyama moves ahead
Sports this weekend on TV, radio
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