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Troy Caupain, Kevin Johnson and the Crosstown Shootout

Bearcat seniors have never beaten Xavier. Time to change that.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Caupain is in his fourth and final season as a Cincinnati Bearcat. So is Kevin Johnson. That means this Thursday’s Crosstown Shootout will be the last in which the two seniors will take part as players. Unlike newcomers Tre Scott, Nysier Brooks and Jarron Cumberland as well as youngsters like Jacob Evans and Justin Jenifer, Caupain and Johnson have been forged in the fire of the Queen City’s hottest rivalry. They’ve also been burned each time they’ve played in the contest, as UC is 0-3 against Xavier during the last three years.

There’s no doubt that Caupain and Johnson will be out to reverse course and make their final Crosstown Shootout a victorious one. But how have the two fared in the rivalry game in the past?

We’ll start with Caupain who got his first taste of the rivalry on Dec. 14, 2013 (so did Johnson, but we’ll get to that). Caupain, a top 50 shooting guard in high school, came in and played in 34 games as a freshman including the Crosstown Shootout. He was still an understudy behind Ge’Lawn Guyn and Sean Kilpatrick at that time, but he played 24 minutes against Xavier, while Guyn only saw the court for 10. Caupain didn’t exactly dominate in his time off the bench, finishing with only five points on 2-of-8 shooting. He also nearly fouled out and had zero assists. To be fair, UC as a team played pretty poorly, losing 64-47 while tallying all of 14 field goals, which was only a few more than Xavier’s total for three-pointers (11).

During that same game, Johnson, who was actually a bit higher rated as a prospect, got in for 22 minutes, which was a season-high for his freshman season. He also recorded five points, doing so a bit more efficiently (2-of-4 shooting).

Both Caupain and Johnson were starters when Xavier visited Fifth Third Arena the following season. Gary Clark was also a freshman face in the starting lineup, but we’re not on him right now. Caupain improved his play from the previous year, stuffing the box score to the tune of nine points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals over 35 minutes. Johnson only played for 14 minutes, losing playing time to Farad Cobb while netting as many points as turnovers (two).

Even if Johnson didn’t play all that well, the Bearcats came as close as they ever have during Caupain and KJ’s tenure to beating Xavier in that one, falling 59-57 even after Troy Caupain drilled two free throws with 19 seconds remaining that gave UC a 57-56 lead.

The third time was not the charm for Caupain and Johnson, who endured last season’s 65-55 loss to the Musketeers at the Cintas Center. Caupain handed out six of the team’s 17 assists, which the Bearcats had an edge on (17-14). However, he only made 3-of-10 shots from the floor and settled for three-point attempts way too often (2-of-9) as he grinded out a team-high 36 minutes.

Johnson had lost the starting job to Cobb a long time before last year’s Crosstown Shootout so he was relegated to 16 minutes off the bench. In that time he made a three-pointer and handed out an assist, but he turned the ball over three times as well.

In total, Caupain has averaged 8.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game against Xavier while throwing up less than stellar shooting splits (.363/.267/.800). For his career, Caupain has been much better efficiency wise (.405/.343/.765). Clearly these tests are more difficult than the average January matchup.

The same can be said for Johnson, who has played less than 20 minutes in each of the last two Shootouts and is averaging only 3.33 points per game on .400/.286/.000 shooting. He has also been turnover prone, averaging 1.7 per contest. He will undoubtedly get more time on the floor on Thursday and the hope is he will fill that time with more positive production.

Of course, its likely that both Caupain and Johnson couldn’t care less about all those stats since the only one that matters is the final score, especially against the X. Here’s hoping they can both write a winning chapter in the rivalry’s history on their final ride.