CINCINNATI -- Xavier’s dominance in the Crosstown Shootout continued Saturday. The Muskies took control of the game early and then withstood a UC second half run to win 65-55 at Cintas Center.
XU is 6-1 at Cintas Center in the Shootout.
Overall, the Muskies have won three in a row, four of five, seven of nine and eight of 11 in the Shootout.
“It was just fun out there,” XU guard Myles Davis said. “The atmosphere was great.”
Xavier has been blowing teams out the whole year. The Muskies won their three games leading into the Shootout by 29, 31 and 35.This was not a blowout but it was pretty convincing win.
Coach Chris Mack called UC Xavier’s toughest test.
The Bearcats were that. But the Muskies passed it to improve to 10-0.
“This is a war,” Mack said. “I have so much respect for Mick (Cronin) and what he’s done. They’re so tough to play. I don’t how the players feel. But I’m limping around. I’m sweating. I feel like Coach (Pete) Gillen. I never sweat like this.
Nine takeaways from the Shootout:
MYLES AND MYLES: Myles Davis led Xavier with 17 points. He hit three of four from 3-point range. He also had three assists and none turnovers.
DEE-FENSE: Xavier came in with a reputation of being able to score. The Muskies were averaging 83.2 a game coming. But the Muskies took control early with their defense. UC rarely got good shots early. When the Bearcats did have open looks early, they missed.
Xavier had a 10-1 lead about five minutes into the game. UC would get no closer than five the rest of the way.
For the game, UC shot 40 percent. The Muskies also won the turnovers battle, 16-10.
“You’re not going to beat a team like this with 16 turnovers,” Cronin said. “That’s rule No. 1 on the road against a real team. They’re a really team.”
NO. 1 WITHOUT A BLUIETT: Travon Bluiett, XU’s leading scorer, missed his first five shots. He didn’t scored until he converted a conventional three-point play wit 2:01 left in the half.
Those turned out to be his only points. He came in leading Xavier at 15.9 points per game.
“Everybody filled in for him,” Davis said.
“They did a great job of Tre,” Mack said.
PERFECT PLAY: Davis pushed the lead to 42-26 with a long three-pointer just before half. The Muskies played for the last shot. Miles had a clean look from three feet behind the arc. He killed it with less than two seconds left in the half.
MORE SHOTS, MORE POINTS: Xavier outrebounded 20 to 13 in the first half and had four turnovers to eight for UC.
The difference was Xavier got 34 shots; UC 22 in the half. That more than Xavier’s shooting advantage (50 percent to 40 percent) was the difference.
STRONG START: UC needed to a strong start to second half to keep from getting blown out. The Bearcats did just that, scoring the first 10 points of the to cut the lead to six at 42-36.
“We got outplayed in the first half, and we got sick of it,” Cronin said.
XU’s Remy Abell stopped the bleeding at 16:22 with a drive to the basket with shot clock running out.
UC answered to get the deficit right back to 7.
Xavier went to 1-3-1 zone at that point. UC turned the ball over on five of the next six trips down the count. That pretty much allowed Xavier to re-establish control.
“They used so much energy to coming back that they didn’t have enough to overcome it,” Mack said.
AUTO ELLIS: Octavius Ellis was pretty much a sure bet when the Bearcats got the ball to him. Ellis made five of his first seven shots. But Xavier did a good job of keeping UC from the pounding the ball to Ellis inside.
Ellis led UC with 13 points, but he got only nine shots.
WITH AUTHORITY: The game seemed to turn when Edmond Sumner made a drive to the basket and finished with a dunk to make it 56-47 with 9:35 left. It’s the highlight from the game you’ll see most often.
“I missed a lot of layups,” Sumner said. “The coaches and players were telling me to go ahead and dunk.”
Davis said: “We were waiting for him to dunk on someone all year.”
The crowd was still going bonkers when Xavier made a steal. Abell missed the layup, but Davis scored on a put-back to push the lead to 58-47.
UC never threatened really after that.
TENSE MOMENT: There a collision at half court off a scramble for the ball with about eight minutes left in the second half.
Tempers flared ever so briefly. But the referees and several players on both sides quickly got the players separated.
Cintas, of course, was site of the ugly brawl in 2011. The brawl threatened to Shootout and forced a move to U.S. Bank Arena for two years.
Another melee of any magnitude would probably end the rivalry.