In front of a record crowd at Cintas Center, Xavier certainly fed off the energy and rowdiness and stormed ahead to a 15-5 early lead by the under 16-minute timeout. The Bearcats struggled to make any sort of shot in the early minutes of the first half, missing their first four field goal attempts.
The Musketeers played phenomenal defense in this game, holding the Bearcats to shooting just 42 percent for the entire game.
Grad transfer Kerem Kanter played his best game in a Xavier uniform, posting 17 points. Kanter was a perfect 2-2 from deep and 6-8 from the floor. He commented after the game, saying, “I’ve always been confident in myself ever since I started playing basketball... It was my only one, [Crosstown Shootout] so I wanted to have a 100 percent winning percentage.” He also talked up the rivalry, saying, “It was a great atmosphere and I am proud I was able to be a part of the rivalry.”
With under six minutes to play in the first half, Xavier controlled the game 33-18 and by halftime, they secured a 13-point lead. In the first half, the Musketeers shot 57 percent from the floor and held Jarron Cumberland to just one point.
Xavier continued its hot streak into the second half, leading 55-34 at the under-16 timeout. The Musketeers were ahead in the game for 38:55 in the 40 minutes of the game.
Trevon Bluiett was back in top form, delivering a 28-point performance. Chris Mack talked about Tre in the postgame press conference saying, “We try to use him [Bluiett] in unique ways, but he’s just got such a quick trigger.” He also said, “When you have a guy as prolific of a shooter as Tre is, it just helps the other guys because [they] are in tune.”
As many Crosstown games in the past have gotten, this one was no different. After the game, Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin was riled up and said something towards the Xavier team after the post-game handshake line.
Bluiett: 28 points
Kanter: 17 points (6-8 FG)
Kaiser Gates: 10 points, 10 rebounds
Quentin Goodin: 10 points, 8 assists
Jacob Evans: 23 points
Cane Broome: 16 points
Cumberland: 15 points
Xavier commanded the glass today, outrebounding UC 44-27. Of those 44 rebounds, the Musketeers grabbed 13 offensive boards. This was key to the game as the Musketeers were able to control the pace of the game possessing the ball much more with such a large rebounding margin.
Is this Kerem Kanter’s breakout game?
Kanter plays an atypical style of basketball for a big, being able to hit outside shots with ease. Earlier this season, he got plenty of open looks, but did not convert them. Today he was extremely efficient knocking down both of the three-pointers he took. He also logged a solid 18 minutes and with this productivity, Xavier has a great asset coming off the bench.
Team chemistry goes a long way
Ever player in Xavier’s starting lineup was on the roster last year and thus far, Mack has yet to shuffle up the starters and he shouldn’t. The starters gel nicely together and today was a true team effort. It was pretty evident that Xavier wanted the game more than Cincinnati. This was especially noticed in the three seniors who were playing in their fourth and final Crosstown Shootout (Bluiett, Macura, Sean O’Mara). Xavier came out hungry for a victory and it showed.