Entering the game the Bearcats had heard all the talk about Xavier winning the past two games and six of the last eight. While Coach Huggins spoke this week that Xavier was just another game. You could see when the players took the court this was a big game in their eyes.
With a sold-out crowd (13,176) packed into Fifth Third Arena. Bearcat fans came ready to cheer and be heard. This was their game and they weren't going to let their team down. As the team took the court the UC student section showed their support. Dressed in red with painted bodies, the student section was in full gear before the game even started.
While Xavier hung tough early, you could sense the Bearcats were ready for a big-time victory. Eric Hicks was bouncing in warm-ups and teammates were following his beat. That beat carried onto the court and didn't stop until the Bearcats had victory in hand and claimed this years Shootout.
From the tip, both teams looked for an advantage. While both teams felt each other out early, there was a sense the Bearcats could take control and leave Xavier behind. Getting out to an early lead the Bearcats looked to do just that. The Musketeers fought hard and by halftime only trailed by 6 points.
The start of the second half saw Xavier counter but never look like they had enough. Xavier showed they could match-up with the Bearcat guards, but they had no answer for the Bearcats in the paint. The only area Xavier showed promise was on the offensive boards. On several occasions the Bearcats failed to get into position and box out the undersized Musketeers.
While Xavier was able to control the glass on their end, they couldn't stop the power of Eric Hicks and Jason Maxiell on the Bearcats end. Both players showed their power on an assortment of dunks, and when the game was out of reach the "Hot Sauce" was poured onto the 4-way.
On the night Hicks would score 16 points and pull down 12 rebounds. Maxiell showed his NBA flare with two awesome dunks that left the crowd screaming for more. Maxiell would score 15 points and blocked three shots.
In the end Xavier didn't have enough firepower and with injuries to two of their post players, guard Stanley Burrell would have to carry the load. The Xavier guard was only able to score 12 points on the night.
The game was a total success for the Bearcats and showed how much work Xavier needed to do in the future. Bragging rights are now back in the Bearcats hands until next year and UC fans are sure to let their Xavier friends know it.