Xavier Knocks off Bearcats in Crosstown Shootout for Fourth Straight Season
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier checked all the boxes Saturday winning the 90th edition of the Crosstown Shootout at UC 80-77. Muskies won their 1st true road game against a good team in a hostile sold-out arena. X won their 4th straight vs Bearcats for the 1st time ever in the series which dates back to 1929. Zach Freemantle became the 1st Muskie player to go 4-0 career vs Cincinnati and he did it w/ maximum impact and effort (14 points-12 rebounds-3 assists-2 steals). XU muscled thru several determined UC runs to win late after leading 41-24(+17) at the half. Adversity handled! Poise maintained and NET Quad 1 win in the book! XU is now 7-3 with one non-conference game left (Tuesday at Cintas vs Southern-7 PM on FS1). The 20 game BIG EAST meatgrinder schedule begins in 6 days-Friday Dec.16 at Georgetown-6:30 PM on FS1).
X smoked UC early-leading 13-1 3:20 in. The offense flowed. Buckets came easily after 3 of 4 passes. The Muskies smothered the Bearcats defensively. Their offense just stalled out. XU won in every stat category. UC shot just 26%FG-turned it over 9 times-got clobbered on the glass-just dominated. PG Souley Boum controlled the pace scoring 13 w/ 4 rebounds to boot. UC tried zone "D" and subbed a bunch but XU kept piling on.
Second half was a different story as UC cranked up the defensive pressure with David DeJulius hounding Boum and the Russian Bear Viktor Lahkin doing damage inside. Cincy closed quickly to 49-40 w/ a 16-8 run and it was game on.
Colby Jones saved Xavier's bacon w/ a stellar scrambling savvy 2nd half(12 points-4 boards-5 fouls drawn-4-5FG-4-6FTs an elbow in the face-a knee in the groin. Colby just kept on ticking! X kept extending the lead to double digits and UC kept clawing back. Cincy cut it to one possession(66-63) w 4:54 left. X rant it out to 74-63 w/ 3:42 to go. UC made it 76-73 on a DeJulius "3" with 34 ticks left.
Souley Boum made 1 of 2 FTS for a 77-73 X lead w/ 17 to go. DeJulius stuck a lean in "3" from the top of the key w/ 11 remaining-drew a foul and banged in the FT for a 77-77 tie. 1st lock-up since 0-0. It was a GREAT 4 point play even though he clearly travelled.
X then gave it to PG Boum and he drove hard to the rim. Fouled in the act. Time-out Sean Miller. Boum swishes the 1st FT(78-77 XU) then misses the 2nd on purpose.
Wes Miller calls a time-out when UC gains possession(0.9 seconds left). Wes had no time-outs left. Technical foul. Two XU FTS which Boum knocked down(80-77 X). Wes wanted time to plot a final heave figuring Sean would order the 2nd FT miss. UC's inbounds pass was deflected with Jack Nunge on the ball.
Xavier wins 80-77. Best closest Shootout since the Dee Davis Game(59-57 Muskie win at 5th-3rd) in 2015. As I wrote in my pregame scout, FTs would decide it if it got close. Boum made 3 of 4 to win it.
Sean Miller now 4-2 vs UC. Wes Miller 0-2 vs Xavier. Muskies closed it out with poise and an even keel. Home court was a factor but not THE FACTOR.
XU played a ton of two BIGS and Zach and Jack won the BIG Battle(32 points-15 rebounds-6 assists). Colby was the best player of the floor(my pick for MVP) but Boum was a close 2nd (21 points).
DeJulius was superb for Cincy(22 points). They should have used him more in 1st half. Lahkin dealt w/ foul trouble. He's a BEAST.
It's a building block win for XU. Bench guys Des Claude and Jerome Hunter showed well. Des(4 points +4 in 10 minutes. Jerome(2 points-3 rebounds-2 assists +8 in 12 minutes). More help is needed from Muskie subs with the BIG EAST looming. Kam Craft can help for sure. Cesare Edwards got 1st half time. He hopefully emerges as a viable BIG piece (6-9, 225-moves well-can shoot it).
Closer than I thought (My prediction 85-75 Xavier, but disaster averted. No overtime. A road win well earned and lessons learned!! We'll gladly take it.