Xavier dominates rival Cincinnati 64-47 in Crosstown Classic

CINCINNATI — From the first shot, it was no contest.

Xavier got the fast start it wanted and never trailed, dominating crosstown rival Cincinnati 64-47 on Saturday night with its best performance all-around.

Justin Martin matched his career high with 17 points, the Musketeers made a season-high 11 shots from beyond the arc and their front line dominated from start to finish. Xavier (8-3) pushed  the lead to 21 points in the first half and keeping it in double digits the rest of the way.

They got the lopsided win with leading scorer Semaj Christon playing only 20 minutes because of foul trouble.

"They displayed a lot of grit, a lot of toughness," coach Chris Mack said. "It's such an exhausting game whether you win or lose. From the opening tip, I thought we were the tougher team."

The Musketeers went 11 of 16 from beyond the arc and dominated in rebounds 33-20. Sean Kilpatrick scored 17 points for Cincinnati (7-2), which went 10 minutes without a field goal in the second half.

"So many guys were so amped up," Xavier center Matt Stainbrook said. "With some of the players, it felt like they were in two spots at one time. That helped us out in that aspect."

Xavier has won five of its last seven against Cincinnati, which had little more than Kilpatrick and its full-court press in this one. The Bearcats forced 20 turnovers but couldn't get points off the opportunities because of their poor shooting — only 33 percent from the field.

"We got outplayed, outcoached in every facet of the game," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. "Not a whole lot to talk about, the way I see it. Pretty self-explanatory if you were here to see it tonight.

"We walked into a street fight with a pink outfit on. That's the best way I can describe it."

The Bearcats had won 18 in a row at the downtown arena where the game has been played the last two seasons after Xavier's 20-point win on its home court ended in a brawl two years ago. Four players from each team were suspended.

The annual game was moved off-campus for two years. They haven't decided whether to keep playing it downtown.

The Bearcats won last year's game 60-45 with Kilpatrick scoring 18 of his 25 points in the second half. Cincinnati was trying to get back-to-back wins in the series for the first time since 1995-96.

They never even came close.

The Bearcats scored only 20 points in the first half of a 64-54 loss at New Mexico a week ago. They had another horrid opening half against their crosstown rival.

Xavier hit its first three shots from beyond the arc and four of its first five overall for an 11-4 lead. Christon, the Musketeers' leading scorer, picked up his second foul on a charge with 13:25 left and headed to the bench. He also sat out much of the second half of last year's game with leg cramps.

The Musketeers pulled away without him.

"Our normal mentality when we break the huddle is to attack," said Martin, who was 3 of 5 beyond the arc. "We wanted to attack. This game so happened to be one of the good starts."

Martin and Myles Davis hit back-to-back 3s as Xavier pulled out to a 24-10 lead with 7:19 left in the half. At that point, Cincinnati had more turnovers (5) than field goals (4). The Bearcats missed 13 of their first 17 shots.

"There was a confidence you could feel in our team, and we sustained that," Mack said.

Cronin got a technical foul for arguing that Martin had traveled before he was fouled. Martin hit the two free throws for the technical and two more for the foul, pushing the lead to 33-14. Stainbrook's two free throws then pushed the lead to 21 points.

Kilpatrick's only 3-pointer of the game with 3 seconds left cut it to 41-25 at halftime, the most points Cincinnati had allowed in any half this season. It matched Xavier's season high for a half. And the Musketeers did it with Christon playing only six minutes. Christon started the second half and went right back to the bench after getting his third foul, also on a charge, with 16:53 to go.

Cincinnati turned up the defensive pressure and forced six turnovers early in the second half but couldn't get the deficit under 10 points. Kilpatrick was Cincinnati's only consistent scoring threat.

Christon hit back-to-back 3s with the shot clock running down, rebuilding Xavier's lead to 57-38 with 9:45 to go. Christon finished with eight points.

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