Last night, I was listening to Shane Battier call a game, and conversation invariably turned to the upcoming Duke-UNC tilt (this was ESPN, after all). At this point Shane launched in to his heart warming soliloquy about how fun that rivalry was and how much he respected UNC's program and history. It made me really glad for the fact that we don't have some wussy rivalry where the opponents do things like "say nice things about one another" or "not get into massive, scandal creating fights." Xavier-UC is the nation's most heated rivalry because of the exact opposite sentiment than last night's color commentator expressed. When X players get mics shoved in their faces, they don't talk about their respect for UC's tradition, or how the other team is a bunch of nice guys. Likewise, when Huggins-era UC players meet with their parole officers, they aren't talking about how happy they were for Lloyd Price when he ripped Steve Logan in the open court. In that, I realized I actually appreciate something about UC (which makes me sick): we hate them, and they hate us. None of this nice guys stuff, no respect for the opponent's accomplishments, we don't like each other and we don't pretend to.
In the 14 editions of the Crosstown Shootout/Showdown contested since Y2K generously let human society off the hook, Xavier has won 9 times. Some have been more sweet than others. Some have been upset wins, others more or less went with the trend. Most were close, but there have been some blowouts as well. Some have launched careers into legend and propelled the Muskies toward March while others (just the one, really) have ended in bench clearing brawls, reflection sessions, suspensions, and a whirlwind of self righteousness from Santa's grumpiest elf, Mick Cronin (get well soon, Mick). Here, then, are the best Xavier victories since the start of 2000 in College Basketball's most heated rivalry.
9. Xavier 76-53 UC -December 10, 2011
Yes, the brawl game. Let me first say that in no way did I not love X humiliating UC and Kilpatrick (who?) and Dixon going 7-28 from the floor. However, it is impossible to see this game in a vacuum, and the damage it did to Xavier's season far outweighed- ok maybe slightly outweighed- the joy of absolutely stomping our most bitter rivals. It really wasn't until knocking off Notre Dame in the opening round of the NCAA tournament that X got back on track, eventually falling in the Sweet 16 to Baylor. As for the game itself, X had 4 starters in double figures, held UC to 27% shooting, and assisted 16 of their own 29 makes. However, almost none of that, other than the fact X was totally dominating, is what we remember about this game. Moving on.
8. Xavier 64-59 UC -December 12, 2007
This was Xavier's best team in their finest hour. UC was in the unfamiliar role of being the underdog, but proved that they could lose when they weren't the higher ranked team all the same (way to go!). X used a 12-4 run to close the first half leading 29-25 after trailing most of the opening 20. With Josh Duncan dominating early proceedings of the second half, UC did the only thing they knew to do and hurt him. The Bearcats then surged back into the game and used a 8-0 run to lead 48-43 with 6:47 left. From that point on, Derrick Brown and UC tied 11-11, but the fact that Xavier also went 7-8 from the line down the stretch, including 4-4 from technical recipient Stanley Burrell, meant the Muskies pulled away comfortably in this one before a buzzer beater helped ease the scoreline for UC fans. This loss also snapped the longest Shootout winning streak of Mick Cronin's career. At one.
7. Xavier 64-47 UC -December 14, 2013
Last year, X once again creamed UC, avenging the 15-point loss from the season before with a 17-point win (for all the UC fans reaching for your abacus, we beat you by more). The only thing which stole the luster from this one, was the fact it was played in US Bank Arena, rather than Cintas Center or UC's home court, Mount Doom. Xavier had a balanced attack with only Justin Martin (17) and James Farr (10) in double digits on the game, while 5 other players had 5 or more. Some guy named Kilpatrick (never heard of him) scored 17 for UC, whose offensive incompetence saw them score only 47 points despite 20 Xavier turnovers. Also, St. Mick got a T and it was hilarious.
6. Xavier 76-66 UC -December 13, 2008
A year after torching them for 17 points, Derrick Brown was back for more in his final Shootout, going for 20 and 10 before getting an early shower after getting his second technical foul. The artist formerly known as Terelle Holloway and Banners favorite Dante Jackson split time at the point for X in this one, which saw Xavier lead 14-2 before pushing it all the way to 37-21 before halftime. UC would storm back into the game, cutting Xavier's lead to 59-56, back to back steals and two point trips to the line by Brown fended them off. With a little over a minute left and X up 10, Brown was assessed his second technical of the game for taunting the UC bench (who, surprisingly, stayed put), but it was all over but the whining for Mick and his boys by then. CJ Anderson, who had 17 and 11 himself, was quoted after the game "We knew there was going to be emotions, trash talking from both sides. At the end of the day, talking ain't going to get the job done. You've got to get it done on the court."
5. Xavier 50-44 UC -December 7, 2002
Jason Maxiell was tougher than David West and could shut him down when he wanted to. Always remember that. UC had a 20 game home win streak coming into this one because Jason Maxiell could shut down David West. UC fans also taunted "Future NBA
Bust Two-Time All-Star" West, who scored mostly at will and ended the game with 23 points to lead all scorers. Thank goodness Maxiell shut him down, or he might have outscored UC on his own. Also, after the game, UC players complained that X players did not shake their hands (or share their orange slices), to which West said "I just got caught up in the emotion. I didn't worry about their guys as much as congratulating my teammates.''
4. Xavier 73-71 UC (OT) -January 19, 2006
This kicks off the final four of our countdown by being the first overtime game in the series in 12 years. This one was nip and tuck the entire way, with neither team ever leading by double digits. This also began the era of X beating coaches other than Bob Higgins, as Andy Kennedy was on the sidelines for his first Shootout this time. Xavier trailed for most of the game, but rode a monstrous second half performance by Brian Thornton to a 6 point lead with 30 seconds left, which UC erased through threes by Devan Downey and Jihad Muhammad and a pair of misses by Xavier at the line. In the extra frame, X grabbed the advantage again, but did not execute well from the line, getting just enough from Stanley Burrell and Justin Doellman to lead by 2 when James White's final attempt was off. Of course, Kennedy would spend the immediate post-game ranting at the refs rather than wondering how his team managed only 45% from the line. Wow, I just remembered how much I hated Andy Kennedy. Sneaky underrated in terms of UC coaches to hate, that Andy Kennedy.
3. Xavier 71-69 UC -February 3, 2004
A storm of criticism preceded the game for X fans, coming from the mouth of paragon of virtue and good sportsmanship Bob Huggins, no less. The now West-less Musketeers were seen as little threat for the #10 team in the nation and UC players even went so far as to say the game was less important to them than it was X, because apparently they had bigger fish to fry. The game's star, guard Lionel Chalmers, leaped to the defense of X fans, referring to them as "amazing" and going on to say "That had a lot to do with the win. Those guys talk trash." The game itself saw Xavier's future Elite Eight squad start to come together as Romain Sato added 18 and 11 to Chalmers' 20. X had come into the game losing 5 of 6 and trailed 19-8 before Chalmers and Sato took over, a trend that would propel them through the A-10 tournament, handing St. Joe's their first loss on the way, and to the brink of the final four. Tough as nails-coated-in-sandpaper big man Jason Maxiell went bonkers, completely obliterating X with 15 points on 4-10 shooting, WHAT A PLAYER! UC would shoot 53% from three, but lose anyway because of their 18 turnover, but mostly because it is just what they do.
2. Xavier 69-67 UC -December 14, 2000
This was the final of the classic Prosser-Huggins Shootouts, with Skip beating a ranked Bearcats team again, just for old times' sake. David West, still two years from being made irrelevant by Jason Maxiell (see #5) was shut down by someone else, apparently, and went for 23 and 13, with 15-19 free throw shooting being the key to his performance. West was aided by 15 and 7 from the previous year's Shootout hero Kevin Frey as X controlled the middle, despite a size disadvantage. This one came down to the wire, and with UC leading 67-66 inside a minute left, Lloyd Price picked Steve Logan's pocket at half court to give the Muskies their final lead of the game. One Maurice McAfee free throw later, and Xavier had sent Coach Prosser out on top in the program's biggest rivalry.
1. Xavier 83-79 UC (2OT) -December 13, 2009
This is the only time the Shootout has gone double-OT. X once again limped into the game against a ranked UC and, in a tale as old as time itself, beat them. This time it was Jordan Crawford who got a technical for raising his voice after a hard foul by Cashmere Wright. By that point, X was already staring a 7 point deficit in the face, 19-12, but rallied to lead 32-26 at the half. The lead would swell to 11 at the 14 minute mark, before the Bearcats would claw their way back into it (that pun brought to you by Fox Sports!). Wright would give them a light, soft, slightly wool-y lead with 6:35 to play, but X hung in and just missed winning when Dante Jackson's buzzer (not)beater was ruled out, sending the teams to the extra frame knotted at 61. At some point in OT the DVR on which Joel and I were watching the game went out, creating quite the frenzy in our living room as we scrambled to keep up with the action. X needed more heroics in overtime, down 3 with 20 seconds left. This time it was Tu Holloway who was able to get to the hoop, draw the contact and score, hitting the free throw to send use to another extra frame. X trailed again to start the second OT, but a pair of Jason Love baskets gave them the lead with 35 ticks left, after which UC was finally done scoring. Jackson and Love, who had posted 19 boards due to his Maxiell-level toughness, split sets of free throws down the stretch and X came away with the hardest fought win in Shootout history and our #1 best Xavier win in the shootout this century.
We hope this has been a fun trip down memory lane as we prepare you for X's trip to UC tomorrow. Please let us know in the comments below some of your favorite Shootout memories. Whether it is Lenny in the Lane, or the run out dunk by Kevin Frey, let us know below which Shootout memories warms you the most on these frigid winter nights.