What happened: Xavier 59 - Cincinnati 57
This conversation begins with your friend and mine Dee Davis. In his last Crosstown Shootout, the Xavier senior was unquestionably his team's best player, going for 16/3/8 on 5-8/5-5/1-2 shooting with his only turnover coming on a questionable double-dribble call. He was lava-hot in the first half, going 4-5/4-4/1-2 shooting to carry Xavier to a 36-24 lead at the half. After being held quiet for 19 minutes in the second half, he buried his signature high-arcing three-point shot to put Xavier up 56-55 with 52 seconds to play. When his team needed a basket to keep from blowing a huge lead in a big game, Dee answered the bell.
For the second season in a row, Xavier's three-point shooting carried the day against Cincinnati. Xavier had struggled in three-point shooting for the entire calendar year, but they demolished UC's vaunted defense to the tune of 10-17 from deep, going 8-15 in the first half and 2-2 in the second. Dee was 5-5, Myles was 3-5, and James Farr and JP Macura were each 1-2.
Remarkably, Xavier won this game despite a stretch of 12:16 in the second half in which they had only one field goal. Xavier shot 1-6/0-0/4-6 and turned the ball over 4 times from Jalen's layup at the 13:08 mark to Dee's three with 52 seconds remaining. UC went on the world's slowest 17-6 run during that span to set up the dramatic finish.
Speaking of Myles Davis, he was Xavier's only other double-digit scorer on the game. His game line of 12/4/1 came on 4-7/3-5/1-2 shooting. He was tied for the team lead with 4 defensive rebounds, none bigger than his board of UC's final missed shot to salt away the game for the Musketeers. Myles had 3 turnovers, but that was the only thing that marred his line tonight.
Matt Stainbrook was not great tonight, going for 7/6/4 on 3-6/0-0/1-2 shooting but turning the ball over 6 times and struggling to be effective against the Bearcats' athletic front line. It was a game effort by Xavier's ground-bound center, but UC's defense is in the top tier against two-point shooting for a reason.
One of the keys to the Bearcats' offense is winning on the offensive glass and getting second-chance points. UC is going to miss a ton of shots, and at times it looks like their offense is designed to miss once and then run to the glass. Xavier's DReb% of 70.9% was much better than most teams do against UC, and in a two-point game that's obviously a big deal. No one Musketeer was a standout on the glass, but a team effort - especially down the stretch - did just enough for Xavier.
Odds and ends:
-Good James Farr showed up to the tune of 7/3/0 on 3-5/1-2/0-0 shooting; apparently this was a James Farr kind of game.
-Trevon Bluiett was 0-2/0-2/0-0 shooting and had been on the bench for most of the second half before knocking down the game-tying and game-winning free throws with 11.5 seconds left.
-Xavier had 15 assists on 20 made baskets.
-Dee Davis scored or assisted 13 of Xavier's 20 buckets and played 40 minutes. The dude is tough as nails.
-"Don't wake [Dee] up!"
-When UC tied the game: "It's over. Can't score, can't get Sweet Music the ball. Staintrain stinks."
-"Dee doing what he does: driving right at their biggest man! Unreal."
-"Stainbrook is a marshmallow."
-"SWEET MUSIC! He actually boxes out!"
-"Okay, Dee was huge! I take back half the lousy things I've said about him! Ironman performance. That's what a senior leader does. Stainbrook was pushed around all night; led the team in turnovers."
-"Knew we had it; never doubted my boys."
Stay tuned; I'll be right back with some video highlights.