Cumberland has 19 as Cincinnati beats rival Xavier 62-47
CINCINNATI (AP) — After getting drubbed on Xavier’s home court last season, the Bearcats had extra motivation in a crosstown rivalry already packed with emotions. From start to finish, Cincinnati’s defense dominated.
The Bearcats (9-1) have won only twice in the last six games against their nearby rival, both times on their home court. Last year, the Musketeers had their way in an 89-76 win at Xavier.
“A revenge-type game,” said Cincinnati’s Keith Williams, who had 16 points. “It was payback today.”
Cincinnati got its biggest win in its renovated arena, which reopened for this season. Red and black confetti streamed from the rafters after the final buzzer.
There was one technical foul — on Xavier’s first-year coach Travis Steele — but none of the nastiness that has characterized some of the recent games between schools less than three miles apart.
“It means a lot, ever since I came here,” Cumberland said of the rivalry. “It’s just how we feel about them, and they feel the same way about us.”
Quentin Goodin scored 12 points for Xavier (6-4), which was held to its lowest point total since a 51-47 loss to Tennessee on Dec. 29, 2012. Leading scorer Naji Marshall was 2-of-13 shooting, including 1 of 8 from beyond the arc, and finished with eight points.
Xavier came in averaging 79.3 points but managed only six points from offensive rebounds and two points off turnovers.
“Their defense was different,” said Kyle Castlin, who shot 0 for 5 from the field. “We haven’t seen anything like what they run as far as defensive schemes.”
Neither team is getting attention in the AP college basketball poll after losing top players from last season, when both were ranked in the Top 10 by season’s end. It was only the fourth time in the last 13 games that neither team was ranked.
Cincinnati has won nine straight since it reopened its arena with a 64-56 loss to Ohio State .
The Bearcats used their significant size and depth advantage on the front line to pull ahead 28-22 at halftime . After seven lead changes, Cumberland hit back-to-back 3s during a 12-point run that put Cincinnati ahead to stay.
“In the first half, we didn’t execute our game plan at all,” Steele said. “Give UC all the credit. They played tremendous defense.”
Cumberland’s long 3 at the shot clock built the lead to 11 points early in the second half. Cincinnati pulled ahead by as many as 20 points.
Xavier: Goodin was back after missing a win over Ohio on Wednesday because of illness. Xavier’s top returning player also has missed significant practice time with a shoulder injury. He went only 1-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats emphasize defense first, and their front line dictated the game by preventing Xavier from getting the ball inside. Fifteen of the Musketeers’ 25 shots came from beyond the arc in their lowest-scoring first half of the season. They made only three of them.
The Bearcats have a 51-35 edge in the series that started in 1928. Xavier has had the edge lately, winning four of six, eight of 12 and 13 of the last 20 between the teams.
The Bearcats also won the last time the game was played on their home court, overcoming Trevon Bluiett’s 40-point performance for an 86-78 win . Cincinnati dominated the boards in the closing minutes to pull away.
Xavier hosts Eastern Kentucky next Saturday.
Cincinnati plays at No. 22 Mississippi State next Saturday.