The Bearcats won by 15 but even that margin doesn’t describe how lopsided this game was, at least in the second half. Despite being down 2 in the first half due to outstanding defense from the Musketeers, Cincinnati exploded on a 15 – 4 run in the first 5 minutes after halftime. Xavier this season prefers a slower, more controlled tempo and as soon as UC decided to play their game, which is fast and constantly aggressive, the Musketeers crumbled.
Cincinnati won on both ends of the court due to excellent passing and overall hustling to each and every loose ball. Most importantly the Bearcats turned up the press on defense which was the key to breaking Xavier. Extremely thin from graduating stars from last season, Chris Mack had no choice but to lean on his starters and they couldn’t match the tempo UC was bringing. Semaj Christon was the first to go down with cramps and was lost for a good portion of the second half. Then point guard Dee Davis went down with the same flare up and wasn’t the same. To their credits, they played through the pain as much as they could and I was extremely impressed with their effort.
But at the end of the day the Bearcats got back to what they do best and literally ran the Musketeers off the court. Statistically Cincinnati couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from three-point-land. That’s one of the reasons why UC’s scoring was uncharacteristically low tonight. But what the Bearcats did find was that Sean Kilpatrick is a God and can do whatever he wants when drives the lane. Despite Cincinnati abandoning the long ball thanks to Killa and the big men owning the paint the Bearcats pretty much did whatever they wanted inside. At the end of the day UC wore down the Musketeers en route to a big victory.