This game had more magnitude than it has in a long time with the Bearcats and Musketeers playing their first game in years where both teams were ranked. Additionally, the game was played at Cintas Center for the first time since the Brawl that moved it to a neutral location, giving the game an electric atmosphere.
The Bearcats struggled to shoot early and defensive stops were few and far between. Xavier came out to one of the craziest crowds ever at the Cintas Center and fed on the early energy to a 18-6 lead.
Behind a stout defense from the Musketeers early, Cincinnati couldn't do much offensively. Xavier struggled early on offense, but quickly found the groove. Xavier took a 16-point lead into halftime and didn't look back.
The Bearcats did find themselves pulling close in the early parts of the second half with a 15-5 run out of the break. Cincinnati complimented their good shooting display in the first four minutes with great defense forcing Xavier to miss their first four shots.
Despite the run, Cincinnati could only pull within five points and Xavier took over from there, pulling away. The game was out of hand until the final four minutes where Cincinnati tried to get closer, but couldn't make-up ground.
The Bearcats have always prided themselves on their defense; however, it was Xavier's offense who was able to step up and make many key plays late. Plays including two late layups added to a late 7-0 run to essentially put the game away.
Cincinnati was able to pull back within single digits late and make a game of it, but could never grab the lead. Xavier came in favored by 4.5 and ended up winning by 10 with a 65-55 final score.
Cincinnati forced 10 turnovers on the game with six steals. Xavier was able to force Cincinnati into 16 turnovers with eight steals themselves. Cincinnati, particularly early, looked a little overwhelmed by the atmosphere, leading to some mistakes.
The Bearcats struggled early on the glass, but dominated the boards in the second half, tying Xavier in the end 32-32. Octavius Ellis led Cincinnati in scoring with 13 points, followed by Shaq Thomas and Farad Cobb with 11.
Troy Caupain lead the team with six assists, while Gary Clark lead the Bearcats with seven rebounds.
Although Xavier won by double digits, this wasn't a complete loss the Bearcats. This Xavier team has proven time and time again this season they are on the best teams in the country. After a slow start, Cincinnati showed resilience in getting the deficit down to five points.
Cincinnati next takes the court against Norfolk State next Tuesday.