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Crosstown Shutdown! Cumberland, Defense Power Bearcats Past Xavier

The Bearcats did what they do best and ran past their oldest rivals with a 62-47 victory at Fifth Third Arena.

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

In the battle of defense vs. offense, defense took a resounding victory on Saturday, as the Cincinnati Bearcats toppled the Xavier Musketeers 62-47 during the 86th Crosstown Shootout at Fifth Third Arena.

The long-time rivals play very different forms of basketball, with the Bearcats (9-1) favoring a brutally crushing defensive approach while Xavier (6-4) leans on efficient offense. The Bearcats’ style won out Saturday, as they held the Musketeers to 35.3 shooting, including a 5-of-25 showing from beyond the arc. UC (9-1) did the bulk of its damage in the first half when Xavier couldn’t even find the basket, making only 28.0 percent from the field. It was an especially impressive defensive performance from the Bearcats since Xavier entered play ranked 21st in the country in adjusted offense.

As for their own offense, the Bearcats were sparked by Jarron Cumberland, Trevon Scott and another breakout performance from sophomore wing Keith Williams. Cumberland, who was playing in his third Crosstown Shootout, dropped in a game-high 19 points, while adding four assists and four rebounds. Williams contributed 16 points of his own and Scott had 10 points and 10 rebounds, as the trio combined for 72.6 percent of UC’s total scoring output, while taking 67.8 percent of its field goal attempts (40-of-59).

The majority of the roster was less effective offensively, and the Bearcats only shot 40.7 percent from the floor and 27.8 percent from three-point range (5-for-18) overall. It just didn’t matter because of how well they defended against Xavier. Aside from their cold shooting, the Musketeers also assisted on only eight field goals and turned the ball over 12 times. Meanwhile, the Bearcats had twice as many assists and only five turnovers. All those forced mistakes allowed UC to own a 15-2 scoring edge off of turnovers and pull away for the victory.

The Bearcats have now won nine-straight games and two of the last three Crosstown Shootouts, extending their lead in the all-time series against Xavier to 51-35. They will be back in action once again next week as they visit the No. 22 Mississippi State Bulldogs in just their second true road game of the season.