The clock read 9.3 seconds when the players walked off the court yesterday, but the game had long since been over. Lost in the hue and cry over the fracas at the end is they fact that Xavier comprehensively destroyed their crosstown rivals. In a contest that wasn't, everything was positive for the Musketeers until those last ten seconds.
We'll get into the fight later but first, the game. It was sloppy and tense early, as rivalry games tend to be. A resounding chant of "Who's Kilpatrick?" met the mouthy UC guard as he strode to the line gave the Bearcats a 3-2 lead with 16 to play in the first half. The game swung back and forth from there but finally swung Xavier's way after a deft steal by Andre Walker led to a three by Tu Holloway. Leading 25-23 at that point, X never looked back.
The 12-0 run that the three from Holloway started carried Xavier to a 34-25 halftime lead. At this point the game was hotly contested, but hardly the street fight that previous Shootouts have been. Most notable was the way that Kenny Frease was dominating Yancy Gates inside. While Gatees got his (18/12/0) he did none of his damage against Xavier's seven footer and he didn't do it efficiently (7-15 from the floor). Kenny did though getting 13/13/1 and locking down the paint.
Leaving the half Xavier tore off another 9-2 run to salt the game away early. With 17 to play it was 43-27 and UC was clearly being manhandled by a better team. While the Bearcats carry the label of a tough Big East team, it was Xavier that was dictating tempo and physical play, forcing UC into a miserable 28% from the floor and a 1-16 mark from behind the arc. Sean Kilpatrick, God bless him, seemed determined to give Xavier fans plenty of ammunition by going 3-12 from the floor and 1-8 from deep. Unable to shake Dez Wells, the swingman never got going.
Dez Wells himself though, did get going. Constantly showcasing the speed that makes his jumping ability so noticeable, Wells racked up the breakaway points to finish with 14/6/0 on a brutally efficient 7-10 from the floor. The game, and the resulting altercation, all hinged on the backcourt from New York. While Holloway followed his pattern of easing into the game by not taking a shot for nearly 13 minutes, Mark Lyons was free to terrorize a UC defense that simply couldn't match his speed. His 19/1/4 were punctuated by a backbreaking three pointer he drained at the 14:27 mark to make the game 46-33 and push back a minor UC run. The vision of the King of Upstate constantly cut apart the Bearcats as he and Holloway combined for 10 assists.
When the clock struck ten seconds though, no one was watching Mark Lyons. Tu Holloway had just scored on a backdoor cut and, having taken his abuse all week, he decided to let the city know. Holloway had 17/2/6 and was brilliant controlling the game from his point guard position. As he game back down the court after his bucket, he approached the UC bench to let them know that he ran this city. After that, things went sideways. The fight was just starting but the game, the game was long dead.
How does Xavier matchup outside? Very well, apparently. Joel correctly predicted that Dez Wells would get Sean Kilpatrick, and he shut him down. Mick Cronin couldn't get his guards inside to take advantage of their height anf the quickness of Lyons and Holloway outside forced Dixon and Wright into half of UC's turnovers. Dee Davis' height finally was the liability it can be, and he played only two minutes.
Who handles Yancy Gates? Kenny Frease does. As detailed above, the Bearcat big man never scored with Frease on him and seemed afraid of the man from Perry-Massilon. Kenny dominated inside and wasn't afraid to say so after the game. Maybe this will silence the unintelligent few who don't recognize the work Big Kenny does inside.
Which team will control the glass? Xavier gave away the advantage and trailed 15-10 on the glass partway through the first half. A timeout and a reaming out by Mack changed that and X won the battle inside 35-30. This, more than anything but the determination of the guards, won the game. One of the biggest ESPN highlights is of Tu Holloway climbing high for a rebound before feeding Wells for a dunk. It's the game in a nutshell.
- Brad Redford beat Dion Dixon off the dribble. That should never, ever happen. The Bearcats were prepared to shut Redord down from outside and he made them pay for being overzealous twice. If he continues to adapt like that, he'll be (more) dangerous.
- Tu Holloway is always a surprise to national announcers. For some reason everyone things he should start more quickly than he does. The patience of Tu to play his teammates into the game before he takes off is a testament to his confidence and his ability.
- Kenny Frease runs this city as much as Tu does. Nothing Yancy Gates does in the rest of his career, if he has one, will erase the stain that Kenny left on his record yesterday.
- Zach Collaros is a complete tool. This goes for anyone who thinks that anything that happened in that fight was a good thing.
- Old white people over-react to stuff like this. It wasn't the end of the world or even really that out of the ordinary for a game. The difference is that this fight happened with the cameras on.
- I've not mentioned the fight much in this article. Tonight I'll be reviewing the tape and breaking things down so we can all know who did what to whom and when. The game deserved it's own column today though.
- Joel will also be chiming in with more breaking news should it occur, so stay right here for the rest of the fallout coverage.