Bearcats Take Back Crosstown Shootout Crown.

Cincinnati rode a great second half performance to down cross town rival Xavier.

One year ago, a brawl between the men's basketball programs at Xavier and Cincinnati marred what is one of the nation's best rivalries. For weeks, all that was shown in regards to the "crosstown shootout" was footage of players from both teams sprawled on the floor, fists flying in a show of anger and general disdain usually saved for bitter enemies, not respected college basketball programs located less than four miles apart. And while that incident was still freshly in the minds of those who watched the game between these two programs Saturday night, the show put on by both teams was a step towards the new edition of this storied rivalry.

While the game itself was a somewhat sloppily played affair, neither team shot above 40% from the field, the passion that has made this game so wonderful to watch was in full effect. Cincinnati got the game started with an early three-pointer by Sean Kilpatrick, his only three-pointer of the half, which allowed the Bearcats to implement their full court press, something that had the Musketeers confused all night. From the jump ball, it was clear that UC possessed an athletic advantage over the young Xavier squad, and it was an advantage that began to show itself as the game wore on. The Musketeers were able to use great defense, one that forced 13 Cincinnati turnovers, and poor shot selection by the Bearcats to gain a 24-22 lead going into halftime. The first half saw both teams put on a porous offensive show, with the Bearcats missing far too many easy put back attempts and Xavier struggling to get their offense going against UC's swarming defense.

The second half began with a much-needed new offensive game plan from the Bearcats. While the first half was filled with far too many contested, deep jump shots and three-pointers, the second half saw the undefeated squad attack the basket, putting their size and athleticism advantage to work. Kilpatrick put together a solid second half to finish with 25 points and seven rebounds. Cashmere Wright overcame a rough first half as well, hitting 5-11 from the field to finish with 15 points and four assists. The real star of the game, however, was Jaquon Parker. While Parker struggled from the field, he finished 2-11, he used his size advantage to get to the basket at will, finishing with 10 free throw attempts, making seven.

The main theme of the night was defense. Cincinnati used their full court press to force multiple Musketeer turnovers, and the times Xavier was able to get the ball over half court, they forced the ball handlers into the corner, where Cincinnati would set up a trap, stifling Xavier's half court offense. This lead to 15 turnovers from Xavier, including nine steals and eight blocks from the Bearcats. Cincinnati's improved offense led to a large turn around in the second half that eventually led to the Bearcats 60-45 victory. While the score may seem lopsided, points and turnovers were the farthest thing from people's minds on the evening. The most important take away from this game was that both teams have moved on from last year's disaster and basketball has once again taken center stage during the crosstown shootout. Although last year's brawl may never fully be forgotten, nights like tonight help us to remember what this rivalry is truly about.

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