After getting off to a lethargic start, the Cincinnati Bearcats eventually fell short in an 84-79 loss to the Xavier Musketeers in the Crosstown Shootout.
Despite entering the annual matchup as favorites, Cincinnati couldn’t overcome an early deficit and a poor shooting performance on Saturday evening.
It marks the Bearcats first loss during the regular season following a 7-0 start and the fifth straight loss in the Crosstown Shootout against rival Xavier.
Wes Miller’s team was hoping to remain unbeaten but multiple players struggled to find an offensive rhythm and Xavier was able to take advantage.
Cincinnati Basketball: Bearcats come up short in Crosstown Shootout loss at Xavier
Bearcats freshman guard Jizzle James posted a career-high 19 points off the bench including 14 first half points to keep the deficit within reach.
Cincinnati duo Viktor Lakhin and John Newman III led the way throughout the second half, combining for 35 points and 16 rebounds in the narrow loss.
Even though the Bearcats had an advantage around the rim, Xavier was able to secure a win as transfer guard Quincy Olivari put up a game-high 27 points.
Xavier jumped out to a quick start and took a 35-27 lead into halftime before hanging on for a victory as Cincinnati nearly completed a memorable comeback.
Cincinnati Basketball: Wes Miller reacts to Bearcats loss to Xavier in press conference
During the postgame press conference on Saturday, Miller reacted to the Bearcats fifth consecutive loss in the Crosstown Shootout via Cincinnati Athletics.
The Bearcats will look to bounce back against Bryant on Tuesday night at home before facing in-state foe Dayton on Saturday evening at Heritage Bank Center.
"“We hadn’t been in an environment like it this year and we’ll be in plenty of them in the Big 12. We hadn’t been tested like this yet and at times, we didn’t handle it really well. I thought we competed and played with great passion. I’m proud of that but it’s to be expected with putting on the jersey. We got uncharacteristic at times with silly fouls that not only put us in foul trouble but them on the line. Sometimes you can want it too bad and I can tell you we want it. It’s been so long since Cincinnati has won over here and I feel it. We want it and our team wants it. The guys that have been here for years want it. Maybe we want it too bad.”"